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.
Air pollution has a unique signature depending on the source or sources, location, baseline, magnitude of change, and the mechanisms by which it is produced. Here are some simple ways to identify what's happening when reading PurpleAir monitors like what we have here.
The first image is from a rural community. Note the good quality air with PM2.5 levels between 1 and 2 with a sudden but short-lived spike to 7.5 at 11:15AM. This is a pattern I have seen before and it represents a dirty diesel truck (most likely a water truck) going past the sensor.
The second image represents normal variation on a good air quality day.
The third image is from a city with the sensor reflecting activity from a local pulp and paper mill and local traffic.
The last image is a rural community snapshot of a good day punctuated by what happens when a wood stove or fireplace is lit nearby. Note the sudden and dramatic increase in pollution and the saw tooth pattern as the stove get to a higher temperatur…
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…
For those who experienced a Summer exposed to wood smoke from forest fires, the thought of yet another Fall, Winter, and Spring filled with locally-produced wood smoke from fireplaces and wood stoves is a horrifying one.
Many are now exposed to particulate pollution for virtually 12 months of the year, and in rural and semi-rural communities these exposures are usually higher and almost never recorded by local, regional, or national governments.
Our PurpleAir network shows the impacts of larger scale fire events as well as hyper-local impacts associated with residential wood burning practices. The pattern of smoke generated is clear and easy to interpret.
Below is ambient air pollution from forest fires over the past week. This PurpleAir sensor is located in the Kamloops region. This pattern of smoke has a roller coaster appearance, and in this case PM2.5 reached around 165 on the US EPA AQI scale.
Below is a screen capture from our network showing a range of readings from central Van…