The Peace River Region is known for its beautiful clear skies, and we want to keep it that way. Air quality issues are usually associated with smoggy skylines over large cities, but that does not mean that we can ignore this invisible source of pollution. Our air quality concerns stem out of two completely avoidable day-to-day actions: vehicle idling and burning garbage.
Backyard Burning is a fairly common practice among rural residents in our region. It reduces the need for transporting and landfilling waste, but burning garbage does not make your household “waste free.” Smoke from open burning irritates eyes and airways and may cause or aggravate respiratory illness and heart disease. Household garbage contains many recyclable items, including plastics; burning plastic and polystyrene sends potentially carcinogenic dioxins into the air. Remember: what goes into your air goes into everyone’s air.
If you must burn, burn smarter and cleaner:
Only during good venting conditions
Only dry, seasoned organic material
Small, hot and controlled fires with good ventilation. Smouldering means smoke, air pollution and creosote build-up.
Garbage, cardboard, polystyrene, glossy paper or prohibited materials such as plastic, treated wood, newspapers, junk mail, and tires. They release dangerous chemicals when burned.
Wet yard trimmings such as leaves or branches.
Late in the afternoon. Smoke settles near the ground as the air cools at night.
The North is often called a land of extremes when it comes to temperatures, which is why vehicle idling becomes a concern during both the summer and winter months. Car and truck exhaust hovers near the ground and concentrates in high-traffic areas, often in areas around children. Children are especially at risk from these fumes, as their lungs are not fully developed and they breathe at a much quicker rate than adults, increasing their exposure to harmful substances in the air.
NEAT is developing idling-reduction campaigns for various regions throughout the region. In the past, we have delivered workshops and seminars on this subject to the City of Dawson Creek staff, and would like to be more involved in this issue. A major focus of our educational outreach is to work with industry to help bust the myths and misunderstandings about diesel engines and idling.
NEAT supports initiatives such as Idle-Free BC , and has resources for individuals interested in taking personal actions.
National Clean Air Day is part of Canadian Environment Week, which is celebrated annually during the first week of June. NEAT has helped communities in the Peace Region celebrate Clean Air Day in past years through actions such as “Walk to Work” challenges and working with municipalities to waive transit fares.
In 2008, we held the first annual Clean Air, Open Air concert and eco-fair. This event was a huge success, and we plan to bring it back, bigger and better each year.