Showing posts from 2021

A personal story about dealing with wood smoke

  After 14 years of fighting air pollution locally generated by neighbours from their wood stoves, fire pits, fireplaces, and open burning, we have sold and moved away from our community on Gabriola Island, British Columbia.   It was the most difficult decision of our lives, and a seemingly impossible one. Choosing between your health and home isn’t fair.   After writing dozens of letters to various levels of government on this issue, presenting to councils, setting up a pollution monitoring network using PurpleAir technology, presenting academic work at conferences, being interviewed more than 50 times by media on the topic, working with a group of wonderful, like-minded people to create a non-profit called the Gabriola Island Clean Air Society, and joining the Board of an international group called Doctors and Scientists Against Wood Smoke Pollution, I am exhausted.   We lost many friends over this battle, incurred significant financial costs, were taunted and shunned, attacked merci

Health impacts of air pollution in Canada, 2021 report

Summary A large body of scientific evidence has accumulated over the past 25 years attributing a wide range of adverse health effects to ambient (outdoor) air pollution exposure. These effects range in severity from respiratory symptoms to the development of disease and premature death. Significant advances in the health and atmospheric sciences over the last two decades have also made it possible to estimate the number of deaths and illnesses associated with air pollution. In Canada and internationally, health impact assessments identify air pollution as one of the largest risk factors for premature death and disability. In this report, air pollution is defined as pollutants that scientific studies have associated with wide-ranging health effects and to which the population is ubiquitously exposed in the outdoor environment. These pollutants include fine particulate matter (PM 2.5 ), ground-level ozone, and nitrogen dioxide (NO 2 ). This is an update to previous health impacts of air

Learn more about woodsmoke and alternatives to burning wood

Here's an interview with Dr. Michael Mehta on local radio in Nelson, B.C., on woodsmoke from an environmental and human health perspective. His part starts at approximately 30 minutes in.

Your fireplace and wood stove are major drivers of deforestation

If you burn wood to heat your home, you may not realize how many trees are consumed every year by this choice. It's often difficult to see this since most of us have wood delivered in trucks loaded with smaller and sometimes split pieces. On Gabriola Island, our consumption of wood is the equivalent of 545 logging trucks/year of trees, and this consumes 55 Ha (136 acres) of mature forest every year. Much of this wood is imported from woodlots on Vancouver Island. If parked end-to-end, these 545 trucks (21.5m in length) would be 11.75 km long - almost the length of the island. Here's the math and the hyperlinked references to support these calculations. Forests in B.C. are relatively productive compared to other parts of the world.  A Ha of mature forest yields on average 400 cubic meters of wood.   Not all of this wood can be used as firewood but we'll use this number since data on actual amounts of usable wood are difficult to come by. A lower number of usable quantities m

The burning question: How to tackle air pollution and health threats from wood stoves?

Gabriola Island Clean Air Society board member, Dr. Michael Mehta, is quoted in this article in the National Observer on wood stoves. He states: "If the stereotype associated with country living holds fast, folks in Canada’s small towns and rural communities should be relishing the benefits of fresh, clean air. But rather the opposite is true, said Michael Mehta, a professor of geography and environmental studies at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, B.C. The full article is here .