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Upper Thornhill residents concerned over air quality

Upper Thornhill residents concerned over air quality

Residents in Upper Thornhill say the air quality in the neighbourhood is going up in smoke.

Eric Roy lives in Upper Thornhill and says the wood smoke this winter seems particularly bad.

Roy posted his experience on a Facebook page.

Other residents of Upper Thornhill added their experiences with the smoke; with one person saying she’s unable to open her windows, and another commenting that it’s hard to breath on some days.

Roy says he would like to see education materials to remind people of the importance of regular stove maintenance, using properly seasoned wood, and the harmful health effects of smoke particulate.

Barry Watson is an air quality meteorologist with the Ministry of Environment.

Based on the local geography, Watson thinks the situation in Upper Thornhill is made worse by geography.

He says much of the smoke and other particulate matter from low lying areas is also being blown up to Upper Thornhill, which is on top of plateau.

It’s then kept in place there by the mountain walls and air inversions, which get worse at night.

Watson says while air quality is a provincial matter, but urban wood burning is regulated at the local level.

He adds some municipalities have by-laws that will kick in when there are air quality advisories in place that limit the usage of wood stoves.

Thornhill is part of the Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine, and they have no such by-laws says Murray Daly, the regional district’s by-law enforcement officer.

Neighbouring Terrace’s by-law stipulates new homes must have CSA and EPA certified wood stoves, and only burn properly seasoned wood.

Daly adds that in his seven years at the regional district, he’s only heard three complaints about air quality, so it wasn’t an issue the regional district was aware of until it was brought up.

The province has a stove rebate program that provides $250 for people to upgrade to more efficient wood burning appliances that are EPA certified.

The program is community based, so people with concerns can form a group and ask the province for funding.

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