Clearing the air

We do not have equipment in Penticton to measure air quality, with the closest equipment being located in Kelowna

Kudos to Jean Waugh on her letter regarding “City fails the sniff test”. It would be nice to enjoy one’s garden, pool, deck or be outdoors any time without backyard burning or winter concentrations of wood smoke. The smell is bad, but worse there is no air quality control in the City of Penticton. The city permits fire pits or safe burning devices on private property anywhere in Penticton for wood burning. If you question this policy you are referred to the regional district eventually. No responsibility is taken by the city that writes the bylaw the fire department follows. We do not have equipment in Penticton to measure air quality, with the closest equipment being located in Kelowna.

According to the B.C. Lung Association (, studies in B.C. have found 30-60 per cent of the fine particles in the outdoor air from any wood smoke can infiltrate your home. In valley communities, a relatively large percentage of the total population inhales smoke from residential indoor wood burning during the winter.

Wood smoke contains tiny particulates. Tiny particulates are more hazardous to health as they are inhaled deeply and tend to deposit in the airways and tissues of the lung where they contribute to chronic lung conditions. Visit Children are at greater risk than adults. Air pollution that healthy adults can normally tolerate can cause irritation in infants and children, obstructing their airways and triggering respiratory conditions.

The provincial government has a wood stove exchange program designed to encourage British Columbians to change out their older, smoky wood stoves for low-emission appliances including new CSA/EPA certified clean burning wood stoves. For more information visit The city and RDOS should be promoting this or natural gas and other options for reducing wood smoke emissions.

Breathing is the most basic human function required to sustain existence, as life without air is measured in moments. Even with children the most vulnerable, it is OK in Penticton to deny the right of every citizen the most basic human function, breathing clean air.

We can make a difference to our air quality.

Joan Clapham