Golden’s air quality one of worst in the province

The British Columbia Lung Association and the Golden and District Air Quality Committee are coming together to host a community forum in Golden to discuss the continued high levels of air pollution measured in Golden.

Senior scientist with the BC Centre for Disease Control, Sarah Henderson, Air quality meteorologist with the Ministry of Environment, Donna Haga, and local Air Quality Committee member Annette Lutterman will provide presentations on the health effects of wood smoke and how it is monitored.

Results of a mobile wood smoke monitoring project will also be presented. The project was completed in Golden last winter, and will explain current efforts to reduce wood smoke exposure.

“It turns out it is more complex than you may thing. The reason is because they recorded we have some of the highest levels of particulate,” Lutterman said, ranking Golden as one of the top towns in the province for air pollution. “We can review what are the health effects.”

There are a number of issues that arise from poor air quality, and the young and old populations are the most vulnerable.

“What we understand about the health effects are related to exposure. We do have a high percentage of population using wood stoves. That is coupled with topography. We do have [Louisiana Pacific] and CP Rail, they do have a significant contribution. We have the highway, we have truck traffic, houses are close together, there’s lots of wood stoves,” Lutterman said.

The Golden and District Air Quality Committee states on the website that many residents of Golden have raised concerns about the poor air quality, and with the local election coming up, the committee will discuss what can be done in the community to improve the quality of air.

“This should be an election issue. We want to talk about what we can do constructively,” Lutterman said. “Council is not interested in creating any bylaws. It would be nice to see more political leadership on this issue.”

After a smoky summer, the season heads into the winter months, which typically has higher levels of particulate in the air from wood stove smoke. In the last week of September, fine airborne particulate levels were low in Golden, with spikes occurring in the evening as people lit their wood stoves. Golden and District Air Quality Committee encourages people to burn their wood stoves with little to no smoke showing.

The committee offers air quality rebates to residents in the Town of Golden and Columbia Shuswap Regional District Area A to offset the purchase of a new EPA/CSA approved wood stove, and are available on a first-come, first-served basis while quantities last.

The community forum will be hosted on Tuesday, Oct. 16 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Golden Seniors’ Centre. Everyone is invited to voice their concerns, share perspectives, and learn more about how to protect their health. The event is free to attend. To learn more about the forum, read about air quality levels, or find out more about the wood stove exchange program, visit www.goldenairquality.ca.

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