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Showing posts from April, 2020

The PurpleAir network on Gabriola Island detects the beginning of wildfire season

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Last night a state of emergency was declared in the Squamish area due to a new wildfire in the region.  By late Wednesday night it had reached 60 Ha in size. See the following article in the The Squamish Chief.

The smoke from this fire was detected by one of our PurpleAir sensors at 3:39AM (some four hours later) on Gabriola Island (approximately 80km away as the crow flies). All of our sensors on the island detected this smoke soon after.

The levels of smoke are in the 30-40 micrograms/m3 range currently (as of 9:16AM) on Gabriola Island.

Although still lower than what people are often exposed to due to wood stoves and fireplaces on the island, PM2.5 at even these concentrations can be challenging for those with breathing difficulties, and those with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 may experience a worsening of symptoms.


Here's another graph that shows you how to tell the difference between wood stove smoke and wildfire smoke based on these sensors.

Because of how wood stoves ope…

Using the average is dangerous and irresponsible when it comes to air pollution exposures from wood stoves

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When it comes to air pollution, there seems to be special "rules" for how it is measured that doesn't reflect true risk or scientific evidence.

Averaging exposures over longer periods of time ignores hundreds of scientific and medical studies on the significant and often irreversible impacts associated with short-term, acute exposures to high levels of air pollution. Yet, regulators and others usually ignore these effects and exposures.

This approach involves using 24-hour and annual averaging which works somewhat when you believe that the airshed is a uniform and homogenous thing. This model is designed for urban areas where industrial pollution is more common, but in rural communities this approach understates the risks from wood burning for home heating and other purposes.

Wood burning creates hyperlocal air pollution and the nature of this combustion process leads to rapid increases in PM2.5 pollution. PM2.5 sized particles are the most dangerous air pollutant, and s…

The use of wood stoves and fireplaces should be banned

Gabriola Island Clean Air Society director, Dr. Michael Mehta, discussed on Global News BC yesterday the need for a provincial ban on wood stoves and fireplaces to reduce the risks associated with COVID-19.

Mehta thinks the current fire bans are a good first step, but believes officials should go even further to control smoke by banning the use of fire places and wood stoves. Mehta acknowledges such a move could be politically unpopular but said it would help protect the older populations living in the rural communities. To read the article click here.