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

Son of slain former Hells Angel is one of two men sentenced for crime spree

Pair’s 2017 series of Lower Mainland robberies stretched from Surrey to Mission

‘Person of interest’ identified after suspicious meat left in North Delta park

Piles of meat have been dumped near the 63rd Avenue trail entrance four times in the last 30 days

Fundraiser launched for South Surrey stabbing victim’s funeral

Paul Prestbakmo remembered for ‘amazing smile, great soul’

Surrey-raised Merkules raps his way around the world

Cole Stevenson opens up about his ‘Scars,’ a hit remix of ‘Old Town Road’ and how he’s pals with Shaq

Disney Plus to launch in Canada in November

Analysts say latest streaming service may escalate cord cutting

Okanagan bus driver assaulted for asking patron not to smoke

59-year-old in hospital with non-life threatening injuries

Mouse infestation hit Langley hospital’s kitchens

Droppings and urine were found by Fraser Health inspectors in the spring

B.C. sets rules for ride hailing, same minimum fee as taxis

Larger operating areas seen as threat by cab companies

Two hiking families team up to extinguish fire in B.C. backcountry

Children and their parents worked for three hours to ensure safety of the popular hiking region

B.C. mom mourns 14-year-old son whose fatal overdose was posted online

Chantell Griffiths misses the son she hadn’t seen much in recent years

Vancouver man arrested after pregnant woman’s SUV stolen, then crashed

Police are recommending charges against a 22-year-old Vancouver man

Oppenheimer Park residents told to leave, clear out tents by Aug. 21

Police say park has seen influx of residents, violence in recent months

Most Read

l -->