Here's a new article from one of our Board members, Dr. Michael Mehta. He states:
Wood smoke, and the cultural and social practices that allow it to be generated without much regulation and control, operates in a vacuum where preconceptions, origin stories and strong emotions impair action. We need another narrative.
Lack of government action to deal with this problem encourages people to ignore this evidence and to underestimate the risk. Burning wood deprives people of the right to breathe clean air in their own homes, and it ultimately represents an uncontrolled form of secondhand smoke exposure with broad implications.
Dr. Michael Mehta of TRU wearing a Vogmask. Yes, I've heard the jokes about Darth Vader and Silence of the Lambs.
Over the past two years people in many parts of British Columbia have been exposed to unusually high levels of particulate pollution from wildfires.
The messaging from the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), and public health officials from Interior Health and other publicly funded health care providers, has been mixed and noticeably negative about the benefits of wearing N95 respirator masks as a risk reduction measure. In a recent article by Ashley Legassic of CFJC Today, she quoted Interior Health Medical Health Officer Dr. Kamran Golmohammadi as follows: "They require fitting," he says. "In other words, it has to be tight on the face. So people with facial hair, small children and people who cannot fit (the mask) properly... will not benefit from these masks and there are alternative ways and more effective ways of protecting people from these parti…
In August 2015 we decided to test the PM 2.5 levels from a 2013 Ford Explorer with a V8 engine. The nephelometer (Radiance Research M90) was positioned 15cm away from the exhaust pipe on a calm day. After several minutes of readings on a warmed up engine, the PM 2.5 levels ranged between 8 and 11 with a modal response of approximately 8.5. Here's a photo of the experiment.
This shows us how clean vehicles emissions are when compared to woodsmoke fires. Paradoxically you would be safer (at least from a PM 2.5 perspective) breathing off this tailpipe like a snorkel than living near a wood fire like this where readings have sometimes hit 200 (ten times the provincial limit).
With air quality changing rapidly, and awareness of the risks from air pollution increasing daily, here's a handy reminder of how good the Purple Air network truly is.
In Kamloops, British Columbia, the provincial government has only one air monitoring station for the entire region. It is located downtown on West Victoria Street, and incidentally away from some of the largest industrial polluters.
A Purple Air sensor happens to be co-located near this provincial air monitoring station, and it is within 200m of it and at a similar elevation from the ground.
Here's what the provincial readings look like recently for PM2.5 levels.
And here is a graph from the co-located Purple Air sensor.
If you focus on the graphs between April 4-10 (the Purple Air graphing package only shows one week at a time), you'll see that the pattern is virtually identical and readings are extremely close.