in this section
Many municipal bylaws dealing with backyard burning are for fire protection, and often are not intended to protect air quality. Recently, though, several municipalities have passed bylaws that ban backyard burning, or only allow the burning of dry, garden refuse under strict rules and on certain days.
There are real health hazards that are caused by particulate matter that is created from open burning and these particulates also play a major role in accelerating global warming. With so many alternatives in this day and age to open burning, the Clean Air Society is against all open burning on the Sunshine Coast.
What we can do as citizens:Compost and mulch If you are in need of good soil prepare your own - the Sunshine Coast is a rocky place!
A good aged compost gives very healthy soil antagonistic to many soilborne pests and diseases. Your yard residue can be taken to composting facilities at the dump as well. There you can get composted material for your garden. Just grow rye or oats for few cycles and seasons and this compost will turn into proper soil.
B.C. is proud of its beautiful nature. There is no urgent need to get a groomed forest, spotless lawn, or immaculate garden. Great gardeners know how to use mother Nature's smart ideas and ecological mechanisms to make plants grow properly. Nature has no garbage, no waste and no leftovers.
Don't save money on the wrong end. Instead of burning the debris get tree-trimming services to chop or dispose.
Rent chipping machines
If it is costly ask in your neighbourhood for a 'joined chipping event'. Add some coffee and cookies and it becomes a party!
NOT - NEVER - NO
Don't burn any garbage or toxic materials like tires, plastics, construction and demolition waste, treated and painted wood, and rubber. You cannot see the toxins in the smoke, but they are there.
Prohibited burning materialsTo prevent the release of dangerous toxins, the following materials must not be burned:
- demolition waste
- domestic waste (household material and food waste not including newspaper and cardboard)
- special waste
- biomedical waste
- asphalt and asphalt products
- treated lumber
- railway ties
- paint and paint products
- tar paper
- fuel and lubricant containers.
Report a burnWhen the ventilation index for a given area has a rating of 54 or below, it is illegal to open burn anywhere on the Sunshine Coast. The Sunshine Coast falls under the Central Vancouver Island jurisdiction for the venting index. A burn also should be reported if prohibited materials are being burned (see prohibited material list above). If the burn you are reporting is an open burn (ie: land clearing, yard waste, commercial burn), please take note of the address/location of the burn, take photos if you can and contact the conservation officer right away. People who open burn tend to be repeat offenders. Only by reporting it to conservation officer will the offender change their ways. You can report anonymously online or over the phone.
Halfmoon Bay: 604-885-5712
Madeira Park: 604-883-9011|
Garden Bay: 604-883-9922
Port Mellon: 604-884-5222|
Roberts Creek: 604-885-6871
For Sechelt residents, please contact the by-law officer:
phone:604-885-8486 or 604-885-8480
For Halfmoon Bay residents, please complete this SCRD Bylaw Compliance Complaint Form and email/fax or mail it to:
phone: (604) 885-7909
mail: Bylaw Enforcement Officer
Sunshine Coast Regional District
1975 Field Road, Sechelt, B.C.
You can also utilize our Neighbourly Notification Program. See below:
Neighbourly Notification ProgramIt's not always easy to approach a neighbour whose burning habits are causing you difficulties. Maybe you have already approached the neighbour and have been dismissed or treated with disrespect. This purpose of the Neighbourly Notification Program is first, to target directly the producer of smoke with educational materials and advice to make them aware that such actions are affecting their neighbours and community. Second, to remove the burden of direct complaint from the individual(s) affected by the burning. These complaints might include; back yard burns, use of a burn barrel, construction burns, slash burns, and excessive chimney smoke.
What can we do?
We have drafted a series of form letters that will be sent out by the SCCAS advising the people responsible for the smoke that neighbours have asked the SCCAS to send this letter to inform the person about the consequences of their burning methods. The letter will also include greener and healthier alternatives to the burning methods they are using, educational information about the health hazards, and links and contacts where they can access more information.
Your personal information will not be released. Just send us an e mail to firstname.lastname@example.org included your neighbour's address, including postal code and name, if possible. Tell us what type of burning is causing the issue and we will send a letter to them within 2 days.
From our blog
- No Incineration Campaign on the Sunshine Coast
Posted: Mon January 20, 2014 Powell River’s Mark Biagi, M.S. has a most excellent video on no incineration that is scientifically and community based.
Sustainable Coast magazine just posted an article titled "Selfie" No Incineration Campaign Launched by Zero Waste Canada in Gibsons. http://www.zerowastecanada.ca
- Air pollution ‘still harming Europeans’ health’
Posted: Wed October 16, 2013 Air pollution is continuing to damage European citizens' health and the environment, latest figures show.
The European Environment Agency (EEA) listed tiny airborne particles and ozone as posing a "significant threat".
However, the authors said nations had significantly cut emissions of a number of pollutants, including sulphur dioxide, lead and carbon monoxide.
In a separate study, research identified a link between low birth-weight and exposure to air pollution.
EEA executive director Hans Bruyninckx said that EU nations had made considerable progress over recent decades to reduce the visible signs of air pollution, with cities now no longer shrouded in blankets of smog.
Continue reading: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-24493530
- Clean Air Society August 2013 Newsletter
Posted: Tue August 27, 2013 The August 2013 CAS Newsletter is the link below:
Click here for the August 2013 Newsletter. In PDF format.
- 10 Easy Steps for Clean Air Day
Posted: Mon May 20, 2013
Breathing polluted air affects your lung health now and in the future. Here are some simple actions you can take to reduce air pollution and to keep the air cleaner and healthier for everyone to breathe:
Walk, bike, carpool, or take public transit.
Reduce your heating needs by making your house more energy efficient. Find out about government programs that test your home’s energy-efficiency and give grants to help pay for the cost of improving your home’s energy efficiency.
Don't burn wood or trash. Instead of burning debris, start a compost pile in your backyard for organic materials.
Use hand-powered garden tools. Avoid using gasoline or diesel-powered equipment such as lawnmowers and leaf-blowers.
Know before you go. If you need to drive, plan the most fuel efficient route using free online tool such as Google maps, taking notice of areas of construction and high traffic. Avoiding these areas can help prevent needless idling.
Check your tire pressure. Properly inflated tires improve fuel efficiency. Each 5% of under-inflation translates into a 1% decrease in fuel efficiency.
Reduce, reuse and recycle.
Avoid idling. Turn off your car’s engine while waiting for someone and try to avoid drive-through lines.
Garden without pesticides. There are many healthy and safe alternatives to harmful cosmetic pesticides.
Get involved. Support national and local efforts to clean up the air. Contact your provincial lung association and find out what is happening in your area and how to get involved.
For helpful links to these steps, please visit the original article here: http://www.sk.lung.ca/index.php/protect-your-lungs-mainmenu/air-quality/10-easy-steps#.UZrHXys-v21
- April Newsletter and update
Posted: Sun April 07, 2013 MESSAGE FROM JEFF HOAG, PRESIDENT OF THE SUNSHINE COAST CLEAN AIR SOCIETY
2012 has been a year of steady progress for cleaner air on the Sunshine Coast. Another successful Wood Stove Exchange program is underway. This program, funded by the BC Ministry of the Environment and the BC Lung Association, supports replacement of old inefficient wood-burning appliances with new, efficient appliances that reduce pollution output dramatically. In 2010 SCCAS provided 93 residents on the Sunshine Coasts with rebates of $250 per appliance. In 2011 we facilitated rebates for 70 purchases and in 2012 we issued 61 rebates. We have received $101,000 in grants over the last three years to fund the program. This money has been spent on education, $250 rebates to purchasers of new stoves, advertising, and administration. I am extremely proud that we have been more successful with this program than any other community in BC. (link to numbers).
We had a highly successful Burn it Smart workshop in December 2012, with over 40 people attending this free community demonstration about how to burn wood fuel efficiently to both save money and minimize pollution. I would like to acknowledge the excellent work of Nadi Fleschutt, Jim Dorey, and Jools Andrés, who have administered this program over the last three years.
SCCAS worked with the District of Sechelt to have Bylaw #486, 2012 adopted; this bylaw will see a ban on all developer/construction burns effective January 1, 2014. Until then, we can all use non-burning alternatives by transporting slash piles to Salish Soils in Sechelt for chipping or taking green waste to the landfill for free. This makes for cleaner air and turns green waste into topsoil and mulch for local gardens. We are also working with Gary Nohr of the SCRD regarding a new backyard burning bylaw for Halfmoon Bay and Roberts Creek. The bylaw draft has been written.
Educational advertising has appeared in community publications this year highlighting the Wood Stove Exchange Program, the Burn It Smart Workshop, and the general health effects of smoke. We have a dynamic, well-visited website (cleanaironthecoast.com) that is regularly updated with new and pertinent information, news, and blogs. Our Facebook page is taking on a new life, too. Please ‘like’ us at http:/ /www.facebook.com/CleanAirSociety and get in on community discussions.
In addition to the support that we receive from the Province of British Columbia and the BC Lung Association, grants from the Sunshine Coast Regional District and the Sunshine Coast Community Foundation and help us immensely with our programs. Furthermore, the District of Sechelt is helping to fund an air quality monitoring station in East Porpoise Bay. See the article about this subject, Air quality monitoring a reality in District of Sechelt in this newsletter.
To close, I want to thank former SCCAS directors Heather Waddell and Vicki Tyndal for their past work and to welcome Peter Wooding as a new director. In addition, I want to acknowledge the amazing work of the SCCAS Board, including Louis Legal, Ryan Logtenberg, and Elizabeth McNeill. Their dedication and selfless work has precipitated much progress for the quality of the air we breathe on the Sunshine Coast.
It is our goal to make the Sunshine Coast a healthier place by reducing the pollutants that cause and affect lung disease and respiratory illness. Thank you for your ongoing support.
AIR QUALITY MONITORING A REALITY IN DISTRICT OF SECHELT
An air quality monitor will measure particulate matter in East Porpoise Bay for the next nine months. Photo: Peter Wooding
An air quality monitor was installed in East Porpoise Bay in mid-December, 2012 and SCCAS began sampling soon after on December 17. Sampling will continue over a 12-month period at three-day intervals, giving representative findings for airborne particulate matter deposition (up to both 2.5 and 10 microns) throughout four seasons. Comparisons will be made with other monitoring sites, including an identical monitor on Sechelt's Trail Bay Mall operating on the same three-day monitoring cycle.
This monitoring is the result of collaborative efforts among citizens, the District of Sechelt (DOS), SCCAS, and the Province of British Columbia. Members of the East Porpoise Bay community expressed concerns to the DOS regarding the notably heavy and increasing deposition of "dust" in and on their homes and property. The DOS, in turn, referred their concerns to SCCAS, which led to communication with the Province. Representatives of the government showed interest in restarting a program in Sechelt by establishing the current sampling site in East Porpoise Bay.
Timely monitoring is proceeding as scheduled. It will be some time before the raw results become available and even longer before an analysis is done. However, there is undoubted benefit in implementing monitoring as it has already increased community awareness of and interest in air quality concerns. We will inform the community of the results as soon as they are known.
BURN IT SMART WORKSHOP WELL ATTENDED
More than 40 people attended the Burn It Smart Workshop on Dec. 8, 2012 at the Sechelt Fire Hall. Those in attendance learned how to burn fires more efficiently from Zigi Gadomski, president of Wood Energy Technicians of British Columbia, through an outdoor demonstration of efficient wood burning. Participants had many questions and gave very positive feedback. Zigi commented that “he hadn’t had such a big and enthusiastic group for a long time”.
Jools Andrés and Mieke Bray organized this successful event for the SCCAS, in part by gathering door prizes from Cozy Homes Fireplaces, Sechelt Fireplace and Gas Centre, and Sechelt Home Hardware. (There were two chimney sweep services donated at a value of $120 each!) Smaller prizes were also awarded such as fireplace matches, Fishermen’s Friend lozenges, chocolate, and tea.
Part of the enthusiasm was, no doubt, due to the refreshments. It was generous of IGA in Wilson Creek to support us by providing some of the treats.
We also thank the Sechelt Fire Department for offering the facility to us at no charge. Both the fire department and the SCCAS have the common goal of creating less air pollution and eliminating accidental fires.
NO DEVELOPERS’ BURNS AFTER JAN.1ST, 2014
In the past, many on the Sunshine Coast have suffered from the smoke and particulates that hang in the air after developers clear and burn their slash piles. For years the Sunshine Coast Clean Air Society has worked on banning those burns, as they pose known health risks, especially for children and the elderly.
In August 2012, the District of Sechelt Council passed Bylaw #486, 2012, which bans burning land clearing waste beginning January 1, 2014. Also prohibited from open air burning are: toxic materials (rubber tires, tar, asphalt, batteries, electrical wire insulation, plastic, fuel and lubricant containers, animal waste, and all similar substances that produce heavy black smoke), garbage, construction waste, and demolition waste.
No burning can take place within 100 metres (m) of any building, structure, fence, or hedge, or within 10 metres of any stream and cannot exceed 1.5 m in height or two metres in diameter. Burning cannot take place within 500 m of a school in session, hospital, or facilities used for continuing care, nor can it be within 30 m of a public roadway, airport, or within 10 m of any power pole or power line.
As far as campfires are concerned, the fire has to be in a fire pit or approved incinerator, clear of overhanging foliage, have access to a water hose and tended by someone 18 years of age or older. Campfires cannot exceed one metre in height or diameter, nor create a smoke or spark that could be a nuisance to neighbouring properties, or contravene any Federal, Provincial, or Fire Department regulations pertaining to open air burning.
Ceremonial fires are allowed and defined as an outdoor fire larger than three cubic feet as part of a scheduled public, religious, or private event, but excluding burning leaves, grass, shrubbery, clippings or cuttings.
The SCCAS supported all of the above. We hoped that the bylaw could have been enacted before Jan. 2014, but the votes in support of earlier enactment were not there.
We also did not want back yard burning to be opened during the last two weeks of October; however, Fire Chief Bill Higgs strongly recommended this. Therefore, we have a two-year pilot project to see what happens during the two weeks of back yard burning during October.
The SCCAS and others need to educate people about the alternatives to back yard burning such as composting, mulching, and taking garden wastes to the landfill or having them chipped. Perhaps we could get a total ban on back yard burning reinstated if many more residents understand and adopt alternatives to burning. Can you help?
Overall, we’re satisfied with Bylaw #486, 2012; as you can see there’s more educational work to be done to end back yard burning. Many people worked on this bylaw for years, so our thanks go to them.
- Clean Air - Smells Good to Me
Posted: Fri March 08, 2013 By Jools Andrés
SCCAS Programs Coordinator
I recently worked on a two-month contract from an office downtown. It was exciting to be a city dweller again with so much to do and see. And smell. All around me, indoors and out…food, exhaust, people, garbage.
I stayed in a suite in East Vancouver. My commute was 20 minutes by bus and during breaks I often took a five-minute walk to the waterfront of Coal Harbour. There was great coffee on every corner and public transit meant I didn't drive my car at all.
After one 11-day stint I ventured back to the Sunshine Coast. I took the 7:20 pm ferry from Horseshoe Bay, then drove to Upper Roberts Creek where I live. It was a clear night and stars twinkled above -- they became brighter as I got farther from the highway lights and above the marine air.
I opened my car door once I reached my home and … whoa! The air was fantastic. Clean and fresh. So different from the air I had become accustomed to in the city.
What is it about fresh air that is so…well, so refreshing? In a nutshell: less pollution and therefore fewer odours. Our sense of smell gives us necessary information, but it quickly adapts to most aromas, whether cinnamon buns or noxious fumes, or to absence of smells, in the case of fresh air.
Olfactory phenomenon aside, breathing fresh air makes us feel healthier, happier, and more energetic. One of the main pollutants on the Sunshine Coast is from wood fires. In December the SCCAS held a Burn It Smart workshop, where attendees learned how to reduce smoke and improve heat efficiency. A synopsis of this event is featured in the upcoming SCCAS newsletter, which will be distributed to members and added to this website.
Our Woodstove Exchange Program is now in full swing with over 25% of allotted funds paid out to participants who have replaced their old wood heating appliances with new, certified, efficient ones.
For more information on reducing pollution from burning, please see our Open Burning section.
Fresh air is a quality that we should protect and treasure. We can do this by making sensible lifestyle choices both outdoors and indoors. We welcome dialogue and feedback. Visit our Facebook page and 'Like' us and follow us on Twitter @CleanAirSociety.
Participating Woodstove Exchange Program Vendors
Cozy Homes - Colleen 4349 Sunshine Coast Hwy Wilson Ck, BC V0N 3A1 604-885-4884
Thomas Heating - Dana 1081 Seamount Way 604-886-7111
Home Hardward - Gibsons & Sechelt 921 Gibsons Way, P.O. Box 1039. Gibsons, BC V0N 1V0 - 5484 Trail Avenue Sechelt, BC V0N 3A0 (Dan) 604-886-2442 604-885-9828
Sechelt Fireplace - Tiffany 5654 Wharf Street Sechelt 604-885-7171
Steve Christian Contracting 604-885-7167
Clean Sweep 10116 Sunshine Coast Hwy Halfmoon Bay, BC V0N 1Y2 604-885-1938
- So Easy to Compost
Posted: Tue November 27, 2012 By Elizabeth McNeil
Anytime is a good time to compost. A good mix of green
materials (vegetable and fruit kitchen scraps) and brown
materials (fallen leaves and shredded paper) are needed for
making good compost.
Sometimes people are reluctant to have a compost pile because
it can attract unwanted animals and insects. Don’t use
meat,fish or seafood which would make your compost a buffet for
critters. Discourage animals by turning your compost more often
thereby adding more oxygen to the compost and creating top soil
Compost to reduce global warming. Unlike burning, which
converts carbon to carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas), composting
returns a good portion of the carbon in plant materials to the
soil where it is stored.
Many of our neighbors don’t know how or don’t want to compost
for a variety of reasons. If you compost, invite them to drop
their Fall leaves into your compost pile. In that way, they
won’t burn them, causing air pollution, or have them carried
away in plastic bags to the landfill. Some neighbors might be
interested in composting but don’t know how to get started. Be
a good neighbor, a good gardener, and help them. By composting,
we’re closer to zero waste, and we’re gaining lots of free top
These websites offer good composting information:
- Sechelt Bylaw to Phase in Banning of Open Air Burning
Posted: Thu September 06, 2012 On August 1st the Sechelt Council passed Bylaw 486 prohibiting open air burning
for the purpose of land clearing beginning Jan. 1, 2014. After Jan. 1, 2014, developers
can no longer burn and will have to use other methods, such as chipping, to dispose of
the wastes from land clearing.
This bylaw has been in the making for about four years, and it’s adoption is good
news to many community, health, and environmental organizations. Many children,
adults and elderly residents with respiratory illnesses, including asthma, have suffered
when smoke from the developers’ ﬁres hung in the air for sometimes days. Passage of
this bylaw is good for obvious health reasons.
The Sechelt Council incorporated suggestions by Paul Martiquet, M.D., medical
health ofﬁcer for Vancouver Coastal Health, increasing set backs from schools and
hospitals to protect those who are ill and young from the negative effects of smoke. For
example, there can be no ﬁres within 500 metres of schools in session, hospitals, and
facilities used for continuing care as deﬁned under the Continuing Care Act.
Previously there was a 100% ban on backyard burning. This new bylaw opens a
window from Oct. 15th to 31st where residents can burn backyard wastes though not
toxic materials like rubber tires, tar, asphalt, batteries, electrical wire insulation, plastics,
fuel and lubricant containers, animal waste, and all similar substances which produce
heavy black smoke. It’s also illegal to burn garbage, construction waste, or demolition
Opening a two week window in October is a two year pilot program during which
time the District plans to conduct an education campaign to encourage residents to take
backyard wastes to the landﬁll for free, use chipping, and learn to compost and mulch.
The 100% backyard burn ban was difﬁcult for some with extenuating situations, and
many residents don’t know how to mulch or compost though it’s very easy. The goal at
the end of two years is to reduce and eliminate backyard burning as people learn
alternatives to burning.
There’s been some misunderstanding in the District regarding campﬁres. According
to Bylaw 486, campﬁres are ok if they are no more than one metre in height and one
metre in diameter, do not create a smoke or spark nuisance to a neighbor, or do not
contravene and Federal, Provincial or Fire Department regulations. For example, under
very dry circumstances there can be a provincial ban on all campﬁres. Campﬁres shall
be contained in a ﬁre pit, be clear of overhanging foliage, have access to a water hose,
and be tended by someone 18 years or older.
Council discussion of this bylaw generated opposing opinions. All sides did a little
give-and-take. Developers can burn until Jan. 1, 2014, and then they incur higher costs
to dispose of wood waste when they can no longer burn. Those with respiratory
illnesses live with smoke until Jan. 1, 2014, and then there will be no more large
commercial burns. Homeowners too close to a developer’s burn will continue to have
particulate matter fall on their houses, cars, and gardens until Jan. 1, 2014, and then no
more. Nothing in this bylaw precludes a developer from using non-burning methods,
such as chipping, right away. Some have already done so. Hopefully more will do so.
In less than two years, we’ll have cleaner air and continuing development of new
residential and commercial projects. In two years, hopefully, more residents will
respond to the education efforts of the DOS and will use non-burning methods to get rid
of backyard wastes. The health beneﬁts are substantial; and health costs, paid by all of
us, are reduced.
- Elizabeth McNeil
- May 23rd: SCCAS presentation to the new Sechelt Council advocating a ban on developers’ burns
Posted: Fri May 18, 2012 On May 23rd the SCCAS will make a presentation to the new Sechelt Council advocating a ban on developers' burns in the DOS.
It would be very helpful if residents living in the District of Sechelt
could attend this Committee of the Whole (CoW) meeting which starts at 1 pm
in the community room across from the library in the Sechelt Municipal
building at Cowrie and Ocean Streets. We expect the opposition to be
strong, so people who favor a ban and attend the meeting could make a
strong statement with your presence.
- Open Burning video about Alberni Valley, Vancouver Island
Posted: Fri September 16, 2011
- Incineration of Garbage and Other Wastes
Posted: Mon August 15, 2011 Introduction
Incineration or burning of garbage and other waste material is hazardous to the well being of Canadians. Nearly half of us will develop cancer in our lifetimes. About 75-80 percent of these cancers will be caused by our environment, i.e., the particles and chemicals that we breathe or otherwise come into contact with over the years. Diseases such as asthma and emphysema have historically been associated with the breathing fine particles. More recently to long term exposures to dioxins, furans, asbestos and heavy metals such as mercury, cadmium and arsenic have been shown to cause numerous cancers, heart disease and other insidious ailments.
Waste Incineration and Links to Cancer
Prevent Cancer Now, a national organization focused on eliminating the preventable causes of cancer cites the following:
Studies in the United Kingdom found an increased risk of childhood cancer, childhood leukemia and solid tumours of all kinds among children living near incinerators.
Studies from France, Japan, Italy, United Kingdom and Sweden found that populations living near incinerators had a cluster of soft-tissue sarcoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma; a two-fold cancer-risk; increases in laryngeal cancer; increases in lung cancer or lung cancer mortality and generally higher risks of all cancers but specifically of stomach, colorectal, liver and lung cancer.
Incinerator workers in Italy, the U.S. and Sweden had significantly higher gastric cancer mortality and a high prevalence of hypertension and excessive deaths from lung cancer and heart disease.
Mass burn incinerators have been around for a very long time. Typically they force air into the fire to fully oxidize all the waste material. Modern incinerators, gasification, pyrolysis (starved air) and plasma arc technologies are touted as safer because they use very high temperatures to convert the waste into gas, liquid and solid residues. These gases, liquids or solids still contain toxic materials and must still be eliminated. Gasification incinerators typically burn the gas to generate electricity.
Modern incinerators are capable of reducing toxic air emissions, but these systems are expensive, consume valuable resources, and ultimately lead to increases in green house gas emissions. Toxic air emissions can never be reduced to zero, and the toxic ash and liquids from these incinerators are still hazardous requiring careful disposal.
Regulation and Monitoring of Toxins
Real-time and continuous monitoring technology is not available for many pollutants including some of the most dangerous, such as dioxins. For example, the trial burning of demolition and construction waste at the Howe Sound Pulp and Paper (HSPP) mill specified that only two dioxin samples per year were required for the trial monitoring regime. Dioxin emissions are not constant. They can vary drastically especially during start up and shut down operations. Relying on only two annual samples is totally inadequate.
As well, environmental standards and safe emission limits often are not specified by jurisdictions. In these cases standards from other jurisdictions may be used as guidelines. Because of these limitations, enforcement of emission violations becomes difficult or nonexistent. The BC Ministry of the Environment (MoE) currently uses some Washington State standards for the HSPP burning trial.
Green House Gas Emissions
At first glance, incineration of waste to generate electricity appears to be a win-win situation. Waste is disposed of, and electricity is generated as a by product. However, many researchers would argue with this simplistic view. It can be demonstrated that recycling of waste materials has the least impact on climate change compared to all other forms of waste disposal including incineration. Green house gas emissions are reduced because reusing materials avoids having to re-extract, reprocess and remanufacture these same materials.
Zero Waste Concepts
The Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA) has stated the following with respect to Zero Waste concepts as an alternative to burning:
Zero Waste creates jobs and is good for the economy. For example, U.S. recycling and reuse establishments employ 1.1 million people and gross $236 billion in annual revenues. Designing more recyclable, reusable and repairable products means more jobs for a vital industry.
Zero Waste saves natural resources by reducing consumption and making new items from recycled materials. Ruining materials through thermal and combustion processes means more materials need to be extracted from the earth to replace those resources.
Zero Waste conserves energy through reducing demand for extraction and processing of raw materials, which is energy intensive. EPA analysis shows that recycling is more energy efficient than combustion.
Prevent Cancer Now sums up the use of burning to dispose of waste as follows:
All incinerators generate toxic emissions, including carcinogens, and are a leading source of dioxins globally. Since there are safer, more economical and flexible options, we should adopt the precautionary principle and move away from waste management options that pose a serious risk to human health and further degrade our environment.
Furthermore, the burning of waste destroys resources and locks communities into very expensive contracts, which require large and predictable volumes of garbage over long periods of time to recoup the large initial capital costs. Far more energy would be saved and fewer health and environmental impacts – including cancer – would result from reusing, recycling and composting materials. In a world of depleting resources it makes no sense to incinerate materials when safer options exist.
Most of the material used to prepare this position paper appears in a few documents located on the Prevent Cancer Now organization’s web site: http://preventcancernow.ca/
I have attached the references used by Prevent Cancer Now for added information.References:
1. Canadian Cancer Society/National Cancer Institute of Canada: Canadian Cancer Statistics 2008 2-3
April 2008, ISSN 0835-2976
2. Environmental and Heritable Factors in the Causation of Cancer –Analyses of Cohorts of Twins from
Sweden, Denmark and Finland. Original Article New England Journal of Medicine July 13, 2000 Vol.
3. American Cancer Society Cancer Facts and Figures 2006 P.22
4. The Health Effects of Waste Incinerators 4th Report of the British Society for Ecological Medicine.
Second Edition June 2008
5. Best Environmental Practices and Alternative Technologies for Medical Waste Management
Jorge Emmanuel, PhD. Health Care Without Harm, June 2007, Kasane, Botswana
Eighth International Waste Management Congress and Exhibition
6. Health Canada – Dioxins and Furans It’s Your Health
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hl-vs/alt_formats/pacrb-dgapcr/pdf/iyh-vsv/environ/dioxin-eng.pdf (pdf document)
7.Canada-Wide Standards for Dioxins and Furans (2001)
8. CCME Review of Dioxins and Furans from Incineration in Support of a Canada-wide Standard Review
9. Plasma Arc Technology for Municipal Solid Waste: A Proven Technology or Incinerator in Disguise?
Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice. Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives. March 2008
10. Incineration and Gasification: A Toxic Comparison. Blue Ridge Environmental Defence League. April
11. Gasification, Pyrolysis & Plasma Incineration Fact Sheet Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives
12. Incineration and Human Health. State of Knowledge of the Impacts of Waste Incinerators on Human
Health Allsopp, M. Costner, P. and Johnston, P.
13. Generic Human Health and Ecological Risk Assessment Study. Durham York Residual Waste Study
June 2007. Report No. 1009497.02
14. After Incineration: the Toxic Ash Problem. Petrlik, J. Ryder, R.A. April 2005 4,7-8.
15. Irish Doctors Environmental Association (IDEA) IDEA Position on Incineration
16 .The Health Effects of Waste Incinerators 4th Report of the British Society for Ecological Medicine, Dec. 2005
17. Waste Incineration: A Dying Technology. Global Anti-Incinerator Alliance July 2003.
18.Ontario Ministry of the Environment Guideline A-8 (2004)
19. Durham/York Residual Waste Study. Letter to Ontario Ministry of the Environment June 11, 2008.
20. GAIA Incinerators Trash Community Health June 2008
21 The Pembina Institute – 4 Incineration Fact Sheets: Impact on Global Warming, Pollution, A
Reasonable Energy Option and Understanding the Costs and Financial Risks
- Working with the District of Sechelt toban land clearing burns by developers
Posted: Wed June 15, 2011 The Sunshine Coast Clean Air Society is working with the Mayor and Counsellors of the District of Sechelt to amend the current burn bylaw by banning the burning of land clearing debris by developers. This ban will improve air quality.
Alternatives to burning are now available, such as chipping and grinding through Salish Soils, a Sechelt business. Salish Soils takes land debris and garden wastes, mixes them with fish wastes from the fish farms, and by applying high heat, turns all this waste into compost and top soil. It's a local, green, sustainable business.
In addition, the Clean Air Society is working to maintain a total ban on back yard burning. Homeowners can mulch and chip without resorting to burning. They can also take their garden wastes to the land fill for free thus, again, negating the need to burn. A good educational effort is needed to help homeowners transition to non-burning alternatives.
So much is now known about the health hazards of smoke and invisible particulate matter on the lungs due to open burning. Since there are alternatives to burning, we should come out strongly in favor of health and protect against respiratory diseases.
Campfires for food and ceremonial purposes are still allowed.
Please encourage people you know to chip, mulch, or take their debris to the landfill for free. This helps us all with cleaner air.
by Elizabeth McNeill
- ‘Black carbon’ key to tackling climate threat: UN report
Posted: Wed February 23, 2011 SOURCE: TERRADAILY
Curbing sooty particles emitted by burning biomass and smog caused by traffic fumes would slow the onslaught of climate change and deliver many health benefits, a UN report said here on Wednesday.
Removing these sources of pollution by 2030 would clip 0.5 degrees Celsius (0.9 degrees Fahrenheit) off the expected 1.0 C (1.8 F) rise in global warming by mid-century, it said.
The biggest beneficiaries would be the Arctic, the Himalayas and other glaciated regions that are highly vulnerable to warming.
Health benefits would be almost immediate, by ending a major source of respiratory illness, it said.
The report, authored by specialists for the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), has been submitted to environment ministers from around the globe.
They are meeting in Nairobi until Thursday for talks on how to overhaul governance of the world's environment ahead of a gathering next year to mark the 20th anniversary of the famous 1992 Rio Summit.
The 32-page report touches on two major pollutants: "black carbon," or soot-like particles that are emitted by burning wood or biomass, and ground-level ozone, a gas that results from a chemical reaction between traffic exhaust fumes and sunlight.
Clouds of black carbon become charged with heat by absorbing sunlight,and can alter weather patterns such as the monsoon.
Black carbon is a respiratory hazard, as is ozone, a triple-atom molecule of oxygen that in the stratosphere plays an important role in shielding Earth from ultraviolet radiation.
Man-made ozone in the lower levels of the atmosphere is a major component of smog and the third biggest greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide -- the direct byproduct of burning fossil fuels -- and methane, which comes from forests and land use. It is also damaging to plants.
Pam Pearson of the International Cryosphere Climate Initiative, said that in glaciated regions, temperatures are rising at double the rate of increase elsewhere.
The Arctic was especially hit because it was close to the industrialised countries of the northern hemisphere.
"Some scientists estimate the impact of just black carbon that lands on ice and snow may be as much as (the impact of) CO2 in the Arctic," she said on the sidelines of a presentation of the report in Nairobi.
UN-led efforts to tackle global warming gases have been stymied by national differences over how to apportion the cost of weaning the world off dependence on oil, gas and coal and improving energy efficiency.
The new report said that addressing black carbon and ozone through pollution controls offered early benefits in addressing the warming problem, although this did not exclude the urgency of tackling fossil-fuel CO2.
It did not make any estimate of the cost, saying further work on this was needed.
Daniel Reifsnyder, US deputy assistant secretary for the environment and sustainable development, told the experts gathered that a two-pronged attack was needed.
"We all need to recognise that slowing the near-term rate of warming by acting on short-lived forces does not buy us time to act on carbon dioxide," he said.
"We need to act now on CO2 because today's emissions will affect the earth's climate for centuries to come," he said.
"What agreeing on near-term warming can do for us is to slow down the alarming rate of change we've seen in the Arctic and elsewhere, and in the process delay the onset of some feedbacks that further accelerate warming."
- Clean Air Society Involved in Effort to Ban Developers’ Burns
Posted: Thu September 30, 2010 This Fall the Sechelt Council will consider an amendment to the District of Sechelt's Burn Bylaw that will prohibit developers' burns. Currently the Burn Bylaw prohibits backyard burning. However when developers clear the land of trees, they are not prohibited from burning huge amounts of wood as long as they have a permit issued by the fire department. Sometimes these burns go on for days causing air pollution and difficulties for those with asthma and other respiratory illnesses. The current amendment would prohibit developers' from burning these slash piles.
Many health problems are associated with wood smoke pollution. Exposure to particulates penetrates deep into the lungs and is linked to asthma, acute respiratory symptoms, chronic bronchitis, and decreased lung function. Dr. Paul Martiquet, Medical Health Officer for the Sunshine Coast, spoke in favor of a ban on developers' burns at a Town Hall Meeting in April of this year. Jeff Hoag, president of the SC Clean Air Society (SCCAS) testified at the same Town Hall Meeting saying that alternatives to burning already exist.
The opposition to the ban on developers' burning would be from developers who oppose the increased costs of chipping or hauling the wood to Howe Sound Pulp and Paper to be used as hog fuel.
A Tree Bylaw, passed October 2009 by the Sechelt Council, requires owners/developers of plots more than one hectare in size to submit a tree protection plan. This requirement might encourage developers to keep more trees on the lot, thus saving themselves chipping, hauling, or landscaping costs.
Members of the SCCAS and some community organizations submitted personal public comment supporting a ban on developers' burns. Thank you for your help! Our comments let the Sechelt Council know that there's public support for this ban.
Last Fall, Heather Waddell, director of the SC Clean Air Society, made a presentation to the Sechelt Council advocating a ban on developers' burns. The Council members were very supportive at that time. We're encouraged that an amendment to the Burn Bylaw that will ban developers' burns can be adopted. We'll keep you posted.
Submitted by Elizabeth McNeill
- Burning Construction and Demolition Waste at HSPP - Green Energy? by SCCAS member Louis Legal
Posted: Wed September 29, 2010 Information from SCCAS member Louis Legal, retired meteorologist
Minister Stockwell Day announced in Gibsons last Wednesday that the Howe Sound Pulp and Paper (HSPP) mill was receiving $37 million in federal funds for boiler upgrades. The mill’s president, Mr. Palmiere, said that these upgrades would allow the sale of significant amounts of electricity to BC Hydro. As a result HSPP will become BC’s largest independent power producers (IPP). As well he indicated that this was green energy because it displaced the burning of natural gas.
Indeed there will be a reduction in the emission of green house gases (GHG) because wood is considered a renewable resource. I congratulate the HSPP mill’s management for acquiring this grant and helping to reduce its CO2 pollution. The mill also announced that it is hosting two public open houses so that we can learn more about its application for a permit amendment to allow the burning of construction and demolition (C&D) waste.
On October 26, 2009 the provincial Ministry of the Environment (MoE) granted HSPP a two year permit variance allowing the burning of up to 5200 cubic metres (one barge) of C&D waste per week. A number of monitoring conditions were attached to this variance.
Unfortunately, C&D waste contains plastics, preservative treated woods, manufactured glued woods such as OSB, plywood and particle board, and paint possibly even lead-based paint. These materials emit potentially hazardous toxins into the atmosphere when burned.
The mill management has argued that the emissions measured during the two year variance exercise were the same during the burning of C&D waste as with the burning of normal hog fuel. They also say that the sorting procedures of their suppliers ensure that the amounts of potentially toxic materials are minimal.
Recent history with coal burning and with C&D waste burning at the mill strongly suggests that management at the mill has not acted with good will and integrity. Given this behaviour, it is imperative that MoE implement safeguards to protect our communities.
Prior to granting any permit amendment, MoE must:
- Monitor all emissions independently of those measured by the mill. Potentially toxic emissions include dioxins, furans, arsenic, lead and others. Industry cannot always be trusted to do the right thing. For example, the tar sands industry in northern Alberta claimed that they were not dumping toxic waste into the Athabasca River. Dr. David Schindler proved them wrong.
- Explicitly prohibit or limit the content of certain waste materials to very small percentages as other jurisdictions have done. These of course include plastics, preservative treated woods, manufactured woods containing glues, and painted material from demolition sites.
Local citizens should attend the open houses on September 22nd in Gibsons and on September 23rd in Squamish. The government recently boasted that BC would Lead the world in sustainable environmental management, with the best air and water quality, and the best fisheries management, bar none. Let’s hold the government to this pledge.
- April 15th marks the start of Clean Air Season!
Posted: Thu April 15, 2010 From April 15th to October 15th, open burning (aka burning of a Class B pile) is not allowed.
Here's what a Class B pile is defined as: A small backyard fire for burning waaste material. The accumulations are normally hand piled, garden refuse materials and may be contained within an incinerator.
Enjoy the Clean Air!
- Removing one ton of black carbon will have the same effect as removing 2,000 to 3,000 tons of CO2
Posted: Tue November 24, 2009 How bad is wood burning on climate change?
"removing one ton of black carbon will have the same [climate] effect as removing 2,000 to 3,000 tons of CO2," says climatologist Veerabhadran Ramanathan of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
This is one reason why the Clean Air Society is strongly opposed to any unnecessary wood burning.
- Progress and more progress for the SCCAS
Posted: Fri June 26, 2009 Tymax Industries has been approved for a curtain burner to be located near Sechelt. They have advised us that they will not be proceeding with the burner and will instead grind and compost or ship out wood waste generated from the mine site. This will alleviate concerns about smoke from the curtain burner as well as drastically reduce or eliminate the smoke that has been produced in the past. We are meeting with Tymax on June 26 to hear about their plans to dispose of biomass responsibly.
We are currently working on proposals for bylaw changes for all areas of the Coast and should have a presentation ready in July. These changes will address all outdoor burning.
We received a corporate donation of $1,000 this month and we have received a grant of $2,400 for the Wood Stove change out program and expect more grant money for the program in the Fall. We have done some advertising in the local papers which has increased our profile and membership. The District of Sechelt has asked to work with us on the wood stove program. We will be sending out a brochure to all residents of the Sunshine Coast advertising the program. We plan to do this in conjunction with a fireplace dealer.
There was a presentation to the District of Sechelt Committee of the Whole on June 10, 2009 by Heather Waddell under the banner of the SCCAS, concentrated on the smoke pollution that comes from land clearing and development. It touched on serious lung health issues, the topography of the area and confusion over open burning regulations. The result was a recommendation "that staff, in consultation with the Chief of the Sechelt Volunteer Fire Department, prepare a report on potential amendments to the Backyard Burning Bylaw to restrict land clearing burns." It is hoped that other concerned stakeholders will have a say, perhaps by forming a working committee.
- Howe Sound Pulp and Paper Mill is burning plastic
Posted: Sun February 08, 2009 This is an article from the Coast Reporter on Howe Sound Pulp and Paper Mill burning plastic:
Burning plastic raises concern
Howe Sound Pulp and Paper (HSPP) is burning plastic, but it is not burning added recyclable plastic as suggested in a report by a Lower Mainland media outlet earlier in the week, said Al Strang, manager of environment and external relations for HSPP.
Strang said the plant has been burning wood waste that contains less than four per cent plastic for about three years.
"We believe that we have all of the necessary permits to burn the fuel we are getting," Strang said. "It is plastic that is attached to the wood, vapor barrier type plastic, found in construction sites."
Strang was definitive in his answer when he said HSPP has not, is not and has no plans to burn wood waste with added, recyclable plastic such as yogurt containers and milk jugs. While Urban Wood Waste, the Lower Mainland company that supplies the product, does add plastics for another company, HSPP does not receive that mix.
"There is less than four per cent plastic in one barge a week that accounts for one seventh of the total wood strain [burned]," said Strang. Strang said the fuel is used to generate heat and electricity at HSPP and because the mill cannot get all the fuel they need to burn right here on the Coast, they bring in about 20 per cent a year from Urban Wood Waste.
Strang also said he has put no more effort since last October into a proposed partnership to build a thermal power plant to incinerate garbage. Dan Bouman, executive director of the Sunshine Coast Conservation Association, said he received several phone calls this week after residents heard about the news story. He said he contacted Strang to ensure that the Coast community, that is so dedicated to recycling, were not having plastics burned at HSPP.
"I got a statement from Al Strang and I accept that. I believe him," Bouman said.
Critics like Louis Legal, a member of the Sunshine Coast Clean Air Society and Sunshine Coast Council of Senior Citizens of B.C. co-chair, argue the burning of all plastic is hazardous to the environment.
Legal said he was not aware that HSPP was burning any plastic.
"The issues are, of course, air pollution from burning plastics and the disposal of the residual ash from the burning process … it requires more investigation," said Legal.
Dion Whyte, manager of sustainable services for the Sunshine Coast Regional District (SCRD), sent an email to directors to share with constituents that had Strang’s information regarding plastic burning at HSPP.
While not incorrect, the information from the original news story was understood by several local people, who contacted the SCRD and Coast Reporter, to mean that HSPP was burning added recyclables.
In his message, Whyte wrote: "Monitoring of emissions from HSPP’s facility continues to be the responsibility of the provincial government. Emissions from the facility must not exceed permitted levels. No recyclable materials from recycling programs on the Sunshine Coast (or anywhere else) are being burned as fuel at HSPP."
The Sunshine Coast Clean Air Society was putting together an official statement regarding the matter, but did not submit it to Coast Reporter by deadline Thursday morning. The Ministry of Environment was also contacted, but no official statement was given to Coast Reporter.
Here's a link to the original article
- Drop in U.S. air pollution linked to longer lifespans
Posted: Wed January 21, 2009 Here's one reason why the Clean Air Society exists - to extend the length and quality of lives.
Americans are living longer because the air they breathe is getting cleaner, a new study suggests. The average drop in pollution seen across 51 metropolitan areas between 1980 and 2000 appears to have added nearly five more months to people's lives, according to a study published Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine.
Residents of cities that did the best job cleaning up air pollution showed the biggest jump in life span; for example, Pittsburgh's clearer air meant people there could expect to live nearly 10 months longer.
"Here's a situation where we say, 'We think that improving our air quality should improve health and life expectancy,' and so we did it, in many cities more so than others," says lead researcher C. Arden Pope III, Ph.D., of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. "We wait a couple of decades and see if it really helps, and the answer is that it did, and that's good news."
Long-term exposure to dirty air -- specifically, the tiny specks known as fine-particulate air pollution -- shortens lives and contributes to cardiovascular and lung disease. Particulate matter is inhaled almost like a gas and is thought to hike blood pressure, heart attack risk, and the chance of heart disease-related death.
The American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology recommends that heart patients avoid driving for two to three weeks after leaving the hospital to avoid pollution (and stress). Other research has suggested that a nonsmoker living in a polluted city has about the same risk of dying of heart disease as a former smoker. Health.com: 5 ways to keep pollution from harming your heart
Gas and diesel engines, coal-fired plants, steel mills, smelters, refineries, and other industrial processes involving burning at high temperatures produce these particles, which are no bigger than 2.5 microns across -- or about one-fortieth the diameter of a human hair. "Those are the ones that can penetrate deeply into the lungs and cause most of the health problems," says Pope.
The Clean Air Act of 1970 set nationwide air quality standards and motor-vehicle emissions standards for the first time, and the federal government and some states have continued to take steps to tackle air pollution. Health.com: Both indoor and outdoor pollutants linked to heart problems
Thanks to these efforts, U.S. air quality has improved. Pope and his team decided to use U.S. data on fine-particulate matter concentrations and life expectancy from the late 1970s and the late 1990s as a "natural experiment" to determine whether cleaner air had any effect on health.
They plotted pollution data for 1979-1983 against 1978-1982 life expectancies for 217 counties within 51 metropolitan areas around the country. Then they compared 1999-2000 pollution data with 1997-2001 life expectancies. Finally, they looked at how changes in life expectancy related to changes in air pollution for both time periods. Health.com: 10 risk factors for heart disease
Many other factors can boost life expectancy, such as increases in income and education and reductions in smoking prevalence, so the researchers used statistical techniques to control for these and other relevant factors. After this adjustment, they found that the effect of air pollution reduction remained; for every 10 microgram per cubic meter decrease in fine-particulate air pollution, life expectancies rose by about seven months. Pollution levels averaged about 21 micrograms per cubic meter in 1979-1983 and had fallen to an average of 14 micrograms per cubic meter by 1999-2000.
Life expectancy for the corresponding time periods rose from 74 years to 77 years. Pope and his team calculate that reductions in air pollution accounted for as much as 15 percent of the increase in life expectancy. Heath.com: Heart Quiz: What's your real risk?
READ FULL ARTICLE HERE: http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/01/21/healthmag.airpollution.lifespan/index.html
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