When the ventilation index for a given area has a rating of 54 or below (FAIR or POOR), it is illegal to open burn anywhere on the Sunshine Coast and the use of a wood stove should be avoided if possible. The Sunshine Coast falls under the Central Vancouver Island on the ventilation index page jurisdiction for the venting index.
Researchers at the EPA estimate that the lifetime cancer risk from wood smoke is estimated to be 12 TIMES GREATER than than the lifetime cancer risk from exposure to equal amount of cigarette smoke. Even though humans have burned wood for thousands of years, scientists have only recently discovered just how hazardous wood smoke pollution is to our health.
The current situation is similar to the way we used to treat second-hand tobacco smoke—by the time the public finally accepted just how hazardous second-hand smoke was, there had already been incalculable damage to human life.
The most dangerous material in wood smoke may be the fine particles that make up the smoke and soot. Many of these particles are toxic. Most are so small that, when you breathe them, they get past your body’s defences and go deep into your lungs. There, they can cause serious problems such as scarring of the lung tissue. Studies show that death rates in several U.S. cities increased when there were higher levels of fine particles in the air. Wood smoke is most dangerous to the health of infants and children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with lung or heart disease. There is a reason why residents of the Sunshine Coast are 40% more likely to develop lung diseases such as asthma then Vancouver residents** (** Source: Vancouver Coastal Health).
Report a burn
When someone is burning when the ventilation index is FAIR or POOR it is really important for the health of everyone that the burn is put out immediately. Please be a good samaritan and report it. If the burn you are reporting is a land clearing or commercial burn, contact the conservation officer and leave a message.
For all other burns contact your local fire department:
Gibsons: 604-885-6870 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 Sechelt: 604-885-7017