Smokin’ Chimneys program helps reduce smoke

This winter, the Williams Lake Environmental Society (WLES) in partnership with the Williams Lake Air Quality Roundtable is undertaking a Burn Smart Education program called “Smokin’ Chimneys.”

  • Jan. 14, 2011 5:00 p.m.

This winter, the Williams Lake Environmental Society (WLES) in partnership with the Williams Lake Air Quality Roundtable is undertaking a Burn Smart Education program called “Smokin’ Chimneys.”

The program is about reducing wood smoke from smoky chimneys and not about banning or removal of woodstoves. Its aim is to help you get the most out of your woodstove while protecting the environment, your health and the health of your neighbours.

Many folks don’t realize that smoke from woodstoves (including outdoor boilers/furnaces) and fireplaces contributes to air pollution in their neighbourhood.

It especially affects the very young, the elderly and those with respiratory or heart conditions.

During colder months in fact, smoke from wood fires is a leading cause of neighborhood particulate matter pollution, one of the leading air pollution concerns in B.C. The problem is exacerbated when this smoke and other pollutants are trapped under a warm layer of air known as an inversion layer. When the air is cold and still, temperature inversions trap wood smoke and other pollutants close to the ground.

The Smokin’ Chimneys program involves program staff visiting neighbourhoods throughout the city, noting smoky chimneys. Education material in the form of a door hanger will be left at those homes where an excessively smoky chimney was observed.

The goal is to provide information to help us all work together to help keep our communities smoke free. Here’s what you can do:

• Burn only 100 per cent untreated, dry wood. And avoid burning other materials such as coloured paper, plastics, rubber, trash and treated wood products that give off harmful chemicals, more pollution, and less heat.

• Use plenty of dry kindling to establish a good, smokeless fire quickly. Keep your fire small and give it plenty of air.

• Check your chimney regularly — if there is smoke coming from the chimney, increase the air supply to your fire.

• Don’t let your heater smolder overnight.

• Upgrade to a more efficient heater — gas, propane, electric, or wood heater.

• Observe air quality advisories — do not burn unless wood is your only heat source — advisories are announced by local radio and newspapers, or go to www.breatheasywilliamslake.org and click on the B.C. Air Quality button for daily air quality information.

For more information, phone Beverley J. Anderson, air quality educator for the Williams Lake Environmental Society in partnership with the Williams Lake Air Quality Roundtable, at 250-392-5997; e-mail breath easywl@gmail.com; or visit www.breatheasy williamslake.org.