Program to help snuff out woodsmoke pollution falls short...

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Program to help snuff out woodsmoke pollution falls short...

Postby Wilberforce » Sat Nov 25, 2017 9:16 pm

Program to help snuff out woodsmoke pollution falls short of target

Derrick Penner
Published on: November 19, 2017 | Last Updated: November 19, 2017 1:30 PM PST

The tangy smell of woodsmoke may evoke a nostalgic sense of warmth, but the emissions are a source of health-harming pollution that the province is trying to reduce — though a key weapon in its campaign is falling far short of its goals.

Since 2008, the Ministry of Environment has run a wood-stove exchange program, with a rebate to encourage switching-out older, smoke-belching wood stoves for cleaner options that started with the goal of exchanging 50,000 older-generation appliances.

After 10 years, however, only something more than 7,000 wood stoves have been exchanged under the rebate program — for modern, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-certified, wood-burning fixtures or cleaner options such as gas fireplaces or electric heat pumps.

Getting there might require stronger measures, according to the report from a 2015 evaluation of the program, which suggested making a bigger investment than the $2 million spent up to the end of 2014 and stricter regulations on the use of older wood stoves.

“(It) is unlikely a voluntary incentive program will accomplish the provincial goal to remove all uncertified wood stoves by 2020,” according to the report, with a recommendation requiring the removal of all old wood stoves by a specified date.

The report also found low participation rates in the exchange program among First Nations, where rates of wood burning for heat tend to be higher, and recommended creating specific pilot programs with Indigenous communities to boost compliance.

The province, however, still marks the exchange program as a success, even if it hasn’t hit its target for changing out wood stoves, because of the awareness it has helped raise around woodsmoke pollution.

“Clearly, 7,000 does not equal 50,000, but that 7,000 stoves is not the whole picture,” said Markus Kellerhals, an air-quality science officer with the Ministry of Environment.

Kellerhals said that surveys done by the ministry in 2003, and again in 2011, indicate that more people have been changing out older wood appliances than can be accounted for by the number of rebates issued.

“They may well have been influenced by the program, because that is one of our goals, to educate people on cleaner options,” Kellerhals said, plus the 7,000 figure “is not insignificant.”

Generally, the surveys show that outside of the Lower Mainland 30 per cent of households burn wood sometimes and 10 per cent do so as a primary source of heat, and Kellerhals said those levels have remained fairly consistent.

There are regions where woodsmoke from home burning forms a bigger part of air-pollution problems, such as in the Cowichan Valley and Comox Valley on Vancouver Island, or the Bulkley Valley and Lakes District in the province’s central Interior.

The exchange program operates as a partnership with communities — regional districts or individual municipalities, and the B.C. Lung Association. The province offers funding for the communities to administer.

It’s the fine particles in smoke that are the big concern, and the ministry estimates that changing out 7,000 stoves through the rebate program has removed 400 tonnes of those fine particles from emissions, but health officials argue more needs to be done, even in urban areas.

Dr. Michael Brauer, a professor in the school of population and public health at the University of B.C., has done studies in Metro Vancouver linking woodsmoke to low birth weights in babies and an increase in ear infections in children.

Elsewhere in the province, Brauer said Health Canada has done a study that correlates heart attacks to smoke pollution.

“We see the health impacts in Metro Vancouver. (Woodsmoke) is a source that we now know contributes a lot, and we actually haven’t done a lot about it,” Brauer said.

The rebate provided by the province is only $250 to change out an old wood stove for an EPA-certified model, which Brauer said is insignificant, considering replacing it would be a minimum $3,000 for full installation.

“Having a carrot is nice,” Brauer said, “but you do need a stick, and we haven’t had any stick to do it.”

Kellerhals said there has been no discussion at the provincial level about banning older stoves, but municipalities have lots of power to regulate wood burning and crack down on nuisance burners, which is something Metro is considering.

Metro Vancouver has drafted a discussion paper that considers a phased-in set of rules that would begin to restrict what appliances residents could use and when they could be used, said Julie Saxton, an air-quality planner at the regional district. That discussion paper is now open for public consultation with public meetings set for November and December ending Jan. 8, 2018.

The proposed regulations would start with seasonal restrictions banning the use of indoor wood stoves during summer months, then move into a requirement for homeowners to register wood-burning appliances, with only EPA-certified units qualifying for registration.

Saxton said the final step would be to restrict burning only to registered wood stoves.

“It’s not to prohibit burning completely,” Saxton said. “What we’re trying to do is set an emissions standard and reduce the amount of pollution that gets out into the air.”

For First Nations, increasing participation in the exchange program will have to involve a bigger incentive than the existing rebates, said Linda Pillsworth, manager of environmental and public health services for the B.C. First Nations Health Authority.

Many reserve-community residents are low income, Pillsworth said, and they face higher transportation costs for the delivery and installation of certified stoves.

“The premise of the program is really good and important,” Pillsworth said. “The biggest problem is the rebate itself is quite insignificant compared with the overall cost.”

There is also a big outside influence helping drive the exchange of old wood stoves with newer, high-efficiency units, said Bill Tulloch, a sales rep at RE MacDonald Stoves and Stones in Aldergrove.

“We do get a lot of people replacing stoves because the insurance companies have told them they have to,” Tulloch said, more so than customers calling in to ask about the provincial rebate.

depenner@postmedia.com
twitter.com/derrickpenner

source
http://vancouversun.com/news/local-news ... -of-target
• The Surgeon General has determined that there is no safe level of exposure to ambient smoke!

• If you smell even a subtle odor of smoke, you are being exposed to poisonous and carcinogenic chemical compounds!

• Even a brief exposure to smoke raises blood pressure, (no matter what your state of health) and can cause blood clotting, stroke, or heart attack in vulnerable people. Even children experience elevated blood pressure when exposed to smoke!

• Since smoke drastically weakens the lungs' immune system, avoiding smoke is one of the best ways to prevent colds, flu, bronchitis, or risk of an even more serious respiratory illness, such as pneumonia or tuberculosis! Does your child have the flu? Chances are they have been exposed to ambient smoke!
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