Air quality advisory issued as Smithers council seeks solution

The day after council passed a motion to make a plan to deal with air quality issues, another air quality advisory was issued for Smithers.

The day after Town council passed a motion to bring a plan forward by the end of January to deal with air quality issues, another air quality advisory was issued for Smithers.

The B.C. Ministry of Environment and Northern Health Authority said high concentrations of fine particulates PM 2.5 are developing within the current stable air stable air and calm wind conditions, which are expected to persist through tomorrow.

The Ministry says wood smoke is a major contributing pollutant in Smithers, and that the PM 2.5 concentrations are forecast to exceed the 24-hour provincial objective of 25 ug/m3. The level as of Thursday morning was 25.7.

Strenuous outdoor activities are not recommended. The advisory also said staying indoors with windows and doors closed helps reduce exposure.

People with chronic underlying medical conditions should postpone strenuous exercise until the advisory is lifted, according to Northern Health. Exposure is particularly a concern for infants, the elderly and those who have diabetes, and lung or heart disease.

Smithers’ Clean Air Bylaw prohibits the use of wood-burning appliances during the advisory, except for stoves that are the sole source of heat for a home.

The council motion calls for Coun. Greg Brown and Mayor Taylor Bachrach to create a survey on wood stove use and plan to hire somebody to do it by the Jan. 26 council meeting.

Staff from the B.C. Ministry of Environment visited Smithers and highlighted the air quality issues in the Bulkley Valley during its delegation to council at the Nov. 24 council meeting. Delegates said the province was willing to help with any solutions the Town proposed.