Tumbler Ridge?s climate, topography and settlement patterns make it particularly susceptible to air pollution from wood smoke. The valley bottoms where many interior communities are located frequently experience long periods of cold, stable air during the winter. Wood burning tends to reach its peak on these cold, clear, calm nights — the very time when the atmosphere?s capacity to disperse emissions is at a minimum. Pollutants from wood smoke can be trapped and concentrated near the ground during these periods, reaching very high concentrations.
To make matters worse, people often try to make their final load of fuel last all night by damping the air supply as much as possible. The result is a smouldering fire and a great deal of smoke with all its pollutants. This harmful smoke tends to linger near its source, rather than dispersing outwards or upwards. It has the greatest impact near or even inside the homes that produce it.
Some smoke particles are so tiny that they can seep into neighbouring houses — even around closed doors and windows. Inefficient wood stove operation and poor stove design have as much to do with this problem as weather and geography.
To reduce wood smoke, we need to pay closer attention to what we burn, and when, where and how we burn it. A few simple steps can make wood stoves much more efficient. Not only will this cut down on harmful emissions; it will save fuel dollars.
For more information visit www.gov.bc.ca/air/particulates/rwssabi.html or contact the Fire Chief, Dan Golob at 242-3939