Fine particulates in wood smoke can cause a range of health issues. (File photo)

Air management society promotes air quality subscription service

The BVLDAMS woodstove exchange program is accepting applications

The Bulkley Valley Lakes District Airshed Management Society (BVLDAMS) is promoting a new subscription service that will alert users of air quality advisories in the Valley.

The B.C. government service has been around on a pilot basis for a few years, said Sue Brooks, who coordinates the BVLDAMS wood stove exchange program.

She said she has been using it for a while and it has proven valuable to her.

The B.C. alerts give information about particulate matter in the air.

Brooks noted it is against a Smithers bylaw to burn wood when the town is under an air quality advisory unless it is your only source of heat.

With the email alerts, users can switch to another cleaner heating option if available for the period of the alert.

In other communities where there is still no bylaw it is still inadvisable to burn wood, have open fires or do any backyard or slash burning during the period of alert, she said, as poor air quality can have serious health impacts, particularly on elderly people, children and people with lung conditions.

The alerts can also be used to guide users’ recreational activities.

“Would you smoke cigarettes while running,” Brooks asked.

She suggested, during a period of inversion, for example, going to higher elevations to engage in activities such as running, skiing or snowshoeing or postponing until the air clears.

An alternative, or additional option, is Environment Canada’s WeatherCan alerts which include other air quality data such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs)

WeatherCan alerts are also available as a smartphone app that can be downloaded for Android and iPhone.

Brooks also pointed out that the woodstove exchange program, which provides up to $1,900 to help people upgrade to high-efficiency wood stoves or pellet stoves, is ongoing.

For information on how to apply for the woodstove exchange program interested parties can contact Brooks and BVLDAMS at coordinator@cleanairplan.ca.

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