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

Gardening: George and the family berry plan

Pitt Meadows family’s farm roots go back to 1925.

Letter: Premier has ‘no clue’ on PR

Or Horgan is deliberately hiding his intentions.

Air ambulance called to scene after report of shots fired in Abbotsford

Incident Monday afternoon in the area of Ross and Simpson roads

B.C. Legions in need of young members to continue aiding veterans into the future

Lest we forget what thousands of men and women did to fight for Canada’s freedoms – but without new membership, many Legion chapters face dwindling numbers

Clear skies for Fraser Blues Remembrance Day flyby

It was the first time the formation team flew over the Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows Remembrance Day ceremonies

Surging Rangers beat visiting Canucks 2-1

Goalie Lundqvist ties Plante on all-time wins list

Calgary 2026 leader expects close vote in Winter Games plebiscite

Residents to choose in a non-binding vote on Tuesday whether they want city to bid on 2026 Olympics

VIDEO: Newcomer kids see first Canadian snowfall

Children arrived in Canada with their mother and two siblings last week from Eritrea

Feds dropped ball with WWI anniversary tributes: historians

Wrote one historian: ‘Other than the Vimy Ridge celebration … I think they have done a very bad job’

Sides ‘far apart’ in Canada Post talks despite mediation, says union

The lack of a breakthrough means rotating strikes will resume Tuesday

Feds’ appeal of solitary confinement decision in B.C. to be heard

Judge ruled in January that indefinite such confinement is unconstitutional, causes permanent harm

Touching note left on Lower Mainland veteran’s windshield

A veteran is hoping the writers of a note know how much he was touched by their kind words.

B.C. health care payroll tax approved, takes effect Jan. 1

Employers calculating cost, including property taxes increases

Most Read