Air quality and our health
The Comox Valley has it all: friendly faces, recreation activities all year round, a brand new hospital and a bustling airport. Newcomers are awed by our lifestyle and energy, but there's something hiding in plain sight: we are in the top 10 of the worst communities in BC for air quality.
In the winter, wood smoke often settles in the Comox Valley. The smoke contains harmful fine particulates and other toxins that can have serious health impacts. And every winter, there are multiple, multi-day air advisories issued for the Valley; it is rare for Vancouver to have even one in the winter.
Why does it matter? Just like cigarette smoke, wood smoke contains fine particulates and many harmful toxins that we breathe deep into our lungs.
And just like cigarette smoke, there are hundreds of studies that show how exposure to wood smoke can have serious health impacts.
DID YOU KNOW?
2019 was the Year of Air Pollution and Health.
Each month, the American Lung Association spotlighted the lifesaving importance of healthy air, focusing on different themes such as how air pollution harms health, who is at risk and ways to take action to protect our communities—especially in light of the challenge of climate change.
Compared to adults, children breathe faster and they inhale more pollutants relative to their size.
And like cigarette smoke, wood smoke impacts children's health.
See woodsmokepollution.org for more details.
Wood smoke has been linked to:
increased rates of asthma and asthma attacks
increased rates of pneumonia and bronchitis
decreased lung function
greater risk of lung cancer in children than in adults
Short-term exposure to wood smoke can have serious health effects including: asthma attacks, heart attacks, strokes, and premature death.
The elderly are more at risk, but it affects healthy adults as well.
Like cigarette smoke, wood smoke contains fine particles, dioxins, formaldehyde, mercury, arsenic, benzene and carcinogenic Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs).
Particulate pollution can affect lung function and development.
An infant's developing lungs are highly susceptible to damage from environmental pollutants, including those in wood smoke.