Red Deer’s air quality health index is window dressing

A recent report by the World Health Organization rated Canadian Cities as having some of the cleanest air in the world.

These are remarkable findings considering that Red Deer and Alberta’s cities, in general, have not even adopted the most basic measures to achieve clean air. Cities in other countries find that to keep urban air reasonably clean they need emission testing programs for private and commercial vehicles and most importantly, a ban on burning wood in homes and yards.

In reality, we do not have the cleanest air in the world; we have ineffective air quality monitoring in the form of the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI). The AQHI only measures a few simple chemicals, and common sense indicates that monitoring only a handful of chemicals provides little in the way of environmental protection.

It is very troubling, for example, that chemicals, known to cause cancer and present in the air in Red Deer, are omitted.

A further problem, is that the smoke and fumes from a wood burning stove, fireplace or fire pit, pose a threat to the health and lives of neighbours but will dissipate before reaching a monitoring unit and the problem will go undetected.

The accepted procedure, to identify the health impact of residential wood burning, as adopted by Montreal and Sweden Environment for example, is to monitor chimney emissions.

The Montreal data shows that burning wood pollutes the air as much in nine hours as an automobile pollutes in a year.

Putting this another way, having a wood burning neighbour is the pollution equivalent of having 200 automobiles running next to your home.

Put in these terms, it was not difficult for residents to appreciate the AQHI does not identify localized threats to their health and they have supported a ban on any further installation of log burning stoves and fireplaces.

To their credit, the Province of Quebec will chip in $6 million to convert existing log burning appliances to burn cleaner fuels.

The situation is less promising in Alberta as no municipality has banned the further introduction of wood burning appliances and the province has waived all air quality standards if residential wood burning is the source of the pollutants, so the standards, which are part of the AQHI are meaningless.

Hopefully no one will be mislead by the AQHI and will realize that we have the same pollution problems as any city that has neglected air quality. To achieve clean air we can simply borrow ideas from those municipalities, across Canada and around the world that care for the environment.

Alan Smith

Canadian Clean Air Alliance

Just Posted

The Lending Cupboard lands new location on north end

New location - 7803 - 50th Ave. to be fully operational by August

Lacombe Generals punch their ticket to Allan Cup

6-1 win over Stony Plain finishes off series in 5 games

Local Legions will be presenting the award-winning play Jake’s Gift

Acclaimed play has received rave reviews from critics and audience members alike

WATCH: What’s Up Wednesday – March 21st

A summary of the week’s news

WATCH: What’s Up Wednesday – March 21st

A summary of the week’s news

Break and enter to Ponoka farm home while resident was inside

Caucasian suspects quickly entered the home and stole several items Tuesday afternoon

10-15 cm expected for parts of Central/Northern Alberta

Lacombe and south can expect around 2-7 cm of snow today and into tonight

Heavy ice off Canada coast strands pod of dolphins, fixating small town

The small Newfoundland community, Heart’s Delight, is fixated on plight of trapped dolphins

Foreign election interference a reality, says Trudeau after Putin re-election

Trudeau said the heavy use of social media and interference by foreign actors are the new reality in elections.

Canadians joining #DeleteFacebook amid fears of electoral meddling

Privacy experts say numerous Canadians are taking to other social media platforms to join in on the #DeleteFacebook hashtag

Schools close as spring snow storm tracks toward Maritime provinces

Schools are closing across the Maritime provinces as a spring snow storm tracks towards the region.

Son of late Canadian professor fights for mother’s release from Iran

Mehran Seyed-Emami’s father, an Iranian-Canadian professor, died in an Iranian jail after being accused of spying.

Deadly crash raises questions about Uber self-driving system

The fatality prompted Uber to suspend all road-testing of such autos in the Phoenix area, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto

Most Read