Wood heating emits nearly three times the particulate matter in six months as all types of transportation combined in a year. HealthLink BC says particulate matter is considered the air pollutant of greatest concern to human health in the province.
Breathe Clean Air Comox Valley notes that cigarette and wood smoke are both full of particulate matter and other toxins that get into our lungs and travel into our bloodstream. Infants and children are among the most susceptible to the effects of fine particulates.
Studies indicate that wood heat is the greatest source of pollution for many Comox Valley residents. Open burning, such as forestry slash burning, emits the most PM 2.5 in the Valley. Wood heating is the second largest source.
Of 13 communities monitored on Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast, Courtenay has the worst air quality.
“As our medical health officer said, there is no safe level of exposure, so any reduction is going to have health benefits,” Jennel Ellis said Monday in a presentation to Courtenay council.
In terms of government action, Breathe Clean Air CV advocates educating the public about health impacts, transitioning people to non-wood heat, offering incentive programs and developing regulatory tools. Individuals can help by using clean heat, and by stopping outdoor burning.