Column: Put smoky burn piles on the back burner

In Plain View by Lachlan Labere

My evening walk near the top of Rifle Range Road in Salmon Arm offers a breathtaking view of Shuswap Lake, as well as a grey layer of smoke hanging about its periphery.

No, it’s not “wildfire season” – not yet – though there have been a couple of concerning blazes in the region already.

Read more: The Smokanagan, Part One: How wildfire smoke affects children

Read more: The Smokanagan, Part two: Physical health effects

Some of the smoke I’m seeing I’m guessing is from people keeping their homes warm. However, the more obvious, large plumes popping up in the Shuswap as of late would be the result of outdoor burn piles.

I’ve heard a number of concerns regarding these legal, permitted burns, especially over the past couple of years, after we’ve come out of a terrible wildfire season and the air has finally cleared.

Our sister paper, the Vernon Morning Star, has put together an informative series on how extended exposure to smoke from wildfires impacts human health (The Smokanagan, parts 1 and 2).

“Smoke is much more dangerous than dust, no question,” says Thompson Rivers University professor Michael Mehta, who has been studying the physical effects and health risks of air pollution for more than a decade.

The problem with smoke, he says, is the small size of the particulate which, after being inhaled, can move through the blood stream and into organs and tissues.

University of Alberta professor Mike Flannigan recently made headlines when he equated inhaling that wildfire particulate – which can include mercury, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and methane – to smoking two packs of cigarettes a day.

While the volume of smoke produced from local burn piles isn’t comparable to what we saw last summer, including that unforgettable yellow/brown day in August, it’s still notable – on some days more than others.

Read more: Smoke from wildfire is like a ‘chemical soup,’ says fire researcher

Read more: Update: Video of large grass fires near Chase

In addition to risks associated with extended smoke exposure, there are the fires themselves. On April 2, Shuswap firefighters responded to a brush fire that resulted from a burn pile getting out of control. Noting how dry the season has been, the fire chief suggested that instead of burning, some wood waste could be taken to a Columbia Shuswap Regional District landfill – where yard waste is accepted free year-round.

Perhaps it’s time to move beyond the whole historical practice setting precedent thing, and pursue solutions that would allow us all to breathe easier.


@SalmonArm
newsroom@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Penticton pharmacy restricted from dispensing opioid treatment drugs

B.C. College of Pharmacists alleges Sunrise Pharmacy dispensed treatment drugs against rules

Summerland Health Care Auxiliary completes hospital donation pledge early

$1M contribution to medical equipment campaign completed half a year earlier than expected

Okanagan-Shuswap Weather: Heat, sun and a chance of thunderstorms for Father’s Day

Morning pancake breakfasts and fishing derbies across the region will see sun, showers may follow.

Summerland ready for dry summer conditions

Province has declared Level Two drought, but Summerland has not increased watering restrictions

Summerland pioneers had connection to Middlesex, England

Harry Dunsdon and Richard Turner became cattlemen

10 facts about Father’s Day

Did you know that the special day for dads was first celebrated in 1910?

Thunderstorm leaves small fire in the Shuswap in its wake

Wildfire crews are also fighting a small fire near Kamloops

South Okanagan pharmacy restricted from dispensing opioid treatment drugs

B.C. College of Pharmacists alleges Sunrise Pharmacy dispensed treatment drugs against rules

Police seek two suspects and car after stabbing in Kelowna

The stabbing took place on Friday evening on Wilson Avenue. It sent one man to hospital.

Okanagan pitcher tosses second no-hitter of season

Vernon’s Jarod Leroux has two no-nos in his last three starts for the BCPBL’s Okanagan Athletics

B.C. VIEWS: When farmland protection doesn’t protect farmers

Secondary residences aren’t mansions, families tell Lana Popham

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

Vernon seeks additional fetal alcohol syndrome support B.C.-wide

“We are making a difference but we could make even more of a difference”

Most Read