Air quality alert issued for smoky conditions

Weather conditions expected to elevate fine particulate levels in Langley, Surrey, New West, Pitt Meadows and Delta



A crackling fireplace can be a nice touch at this time of year.

But too many smoking chimneys burning can be hazardous to your health.

An air quality bulletin has been issued for Langley, Surrey, Richmond, New West, Pitt Meadows and Delta due to smoky conditions expected this weekend.

Intermittent high concentrations of fine particulate are predicted from smoke sources such as wood stoves, fireplaces and open burning, according to the bulletin.

Overnight temperature inversions and light winds are tending to trap particulate at low levels.

People who have respiratory conditions, chronic medical conditions or are sensitive to wood smoke may wish to reduce their physical activity until the advisory is lifted, which could come by Tuesday with an expected change in the weather.

The bulletin issued by Metro Vancouver, the environment ministry, Environment Canada and the Fraser Valley Regional District says the smoky conditions could spread to affect other Lower Mainland municipalities as well. Real time information on local air quality can be found at www.airmap.ca or bcairquality.ca.

People with fireplaces and wood stoves are being urged not to use them unless they’re the home’s primary source of heat.

If they are used, smoke emissions can be minimized by:

  • Burning only clean, seasoned wood.
  • Building small hot fires and avoid smouldering.
  • Regular chimney sweeping.

Older wood burning stoves can also be exchanged for efficient cleaner-burning models through the regional wood stove exchange programs that offer a $250 rebate.

Metro Vancouver gets about 90 wood smoke complaints a year pressuring it to crack down on homes whose fireplaces pollute local neighbourhoods.

Officials say enforcement is an option in severe cases, but it’s tough to prove a specific home is causing pollution. (Metro has recommendations on its website for documenting wood smoke violators.)

“A ban is the only way,” said Vancouver resident Vicki Morell, who says just one fireplace burning can pollute an entire neighbourhood.

“There’s no way Vancouver can be the greenest city in the world as long as there’s fireplaces burning wood.”

Metro has estimated before that residential wood burning accounts for more fine particulate across the region than all major industries combined. Air quality planners believe it’s a significant risk to public health.

But Morell says politicians on the Metro board refuse to take tougher action, likely because they fear the wrath of fireplace owners in their cities.

“They don’t want to go there,” she said. “They don’t want to accept what they need to do, which is to ban it.”

As of 2010, one third of Metro homes had a wood-burning fireplace or stove. Many of them aren’t burned for heat but just for ambiance, entertainment or to burn off garbage, which can release more toxins than just wood.

Just Posted

Fraser Surrey Docks mechanic dies on the job

‘This is a very sad day - a worker went to his job this morning and didn’t go home’

Man arrested in Maple Ridge in connection with Victoria-area murder

Daniel Creagh faces second-degree murder charge in death of Joseph Gauthier

PHOTOS: Canada Cup action continues at Softball City

The Futures Gold final is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Sunday at Softball City’s diamond No. 1

All-Indigenous teams break new ground, making BC Games history

This is the first time there have been dedicated Indigenous teams at the BC Summer Games

The Northern Secwepemc te Qelmucw people signed an agreement-in-principle with the B.C. government

The signing ceremony, at the Eliza Archie Memorial School, was 25 years in the making

Ping-pong balls of fire dropped to merge two B.C. wildfires

The merger is considered successful by BC Wildfire Services

Canada to resettle dozens of White Helmets and their families from Syria

There are fears the volunteers would become a target for government troops

Francesco Molinari wins British Open at Carnoustie

It is his first win at a major and the first by an Italian

Government sets full-time salary range for Justin Trudeau’s nanny

At its top range, the order works out to a rate of $21.79 per hour, assuming a 40-hour work week

Trio overcomes adversity at the BC Games

Zone 4 girl’s 3x3 basketball team fought through injuries and conflicting schedules

Recovery high schools could help teens before addiction takes hold: B.C. parents

Schools could provide mental health supports and let parents discuss their children’s drug use openly

Haida Gwaii village faces housing crisis, targets short-term rentals

Housing is tight and the village is pretty close to zero vacancy

Most Read