News Local

Wood fireplaces spiked emergency visits, emissions: report

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver



"A range of additional options are being considered as well, including regulatory requirements and education approaches, encompassing both new and existing residential wood-burning devices." — Metro Vancouver

Wood-burning fireplaces are suspected of driving a spike in particulate matter emissions and emergency room visits for respiratory problems in Richmond, according to a Metro Vancouver report.

The regional authority’s air monitoring stations detected a spike with particulate emissions in Richmond in late November, according to the report.

At the same time, Vancouver Coastal Health noticed a jump in emergency room visits “due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,” bronchitis, asthma and other lung conditions. Though authorities can’t be certain, the wood burning is considered a “significant contributor” to the visits and emissions spike.

Metro Vancouver said residential wood smoke contributes to about 23% of regional particulate matter emissions.

“Wood smoke is composed of fine particulate matter … and a mix of chemicals that can be hazardous to human health,” the report said.

“These substances can increase the risk of heath and lung diseases such as asthma and emphysema and increase susceptibility to illness.”

The regional authority had been relying on a wood stove exchange program funded by the provincial government to reduce the emissions — with more than 300 stoves exchanged for clean-burning appliances so far — but that funding is expected to end this year.


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