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.

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey Police’s role in Barnston Island still needs ‘to be looked at’

Surrey RCMP polices unincorporated island a short ferry ride across Parson’s Channel

Surrey looking into reducing residential speed limits

Surrey city council on Feb. 24 approved five ‘key pillars’ of a Surrey Transportation Plan

‘We have to triage’: Surrey teachers stage ‘walk-in’ to support public education

Teachers raising awareness after more than one year at the bargaining table

Suspected drugs, counterfeit cash seized during distracted driving stop: Surrey RCMP

Police said incident happened near 152nd Street and Fraser Highway

Fate of five-district policing model in Surrey rests with new police board

Whalley/City Centre, Guildford/Fleetwood, Newton, Cloverdale, and South Surrey districts formed under McCallum’s watch in 1998

Two law enforcement trucks ‘deliberately’ set on fire in northern B.C., RCMP say

Police say they have video evidence of a person in the area of the truck fires

B.C. mother, daughter return home after coronavirus quarantine in Asia

Jensine Morabito and her daughter were on Holland America’s Westerdam but did not catch the virus

Leap Year means we get an extra day in February, so how are you spending it?

People online have a number of suggestions and plans on how they will be spending Saturday

Greta sticker that drew outrage in Alberta not child pornography: RCMP

X-Site Energy Services has denied having anything to do with the stickers

Bald eagle hit by train in northern B.C. has a chance of survival

The raptor has been taken to OWL in the Lower Mainland for recovery

Cheslatta Carrier Nation and Rio Tinto sign a historic agreement

Co-operation crucial to stem dropping Nechako Reservoir level

Hundreds of B.C. firefighters ‘climb the wall’ for BC Lung Association

The charity fundraiser saw participants climbing up 48 storeys

Stories of sexual assault at B.C. tree planting camps ‘shocking but not surprising:’ advocate

Contractors’ association is working with trainers to create respectful culture

Most Read