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

Peeling away: OK strip clubs disappearing

Hear from Penticton’s only strip club owner about their success in a dying industry

Okanagan’s oldest mayor shows no sign of slowing down

Mayor James Baker has decades of history in his political career

The hunt is on: Lake Country egg hunt kicks off Easter weekend

It’s the biggest Easter egg hunt in Lake Country

Rollover in West Kelowna

An SUV rollover was reported just after 8:30 a.m. on Boucherie Road.… Continue reading

Support for Penticton shooting victim

A GoFundMe has been started for one of the four people killed April 15

Annual Nk’maplqs Challenge Cup returns easter weekend

The goal of the Vernon-based event is to revitalize the game and the tradition of an all-native hockey tournament in the Interior.

B.C. RCMP receive application for Police Cat Services

RCMP announced the launch of the Police Cat Services unit as an April fools joke

Traffic flagger ‘pushed’ by vehicle in Osoyoos on April 18

Aimee Attig is looking for witnesses of the incident that took place on Highway 3 near the AG Foods

Shuswap dancer stays across street from Penticton shooting day after Salmon Arm tragedy

Dancers come for festival, put in lockdown in rec centre, watch police response from Airbnb window

Kirkland Signature veggie burgers recalled due to possible metal fragments

Recalled products came in 1.7 kg packages with a best before date of Apr. 23, 2019

Chaos at the ferry terminal for people heading from Vancouver to the Island

Easter crowds create backlog at Tsawwassen ferry terminal

Vernon-raised BC Was Awesome producer returns home for filming of episode

The topic of this Vernon-featured episode has not yet been revealed.

COLUMN: Bunnies, sexuality and the freedom to read

A book about a gay bunny has been the subject of challenges

Parents of 13 who tortured children get life after hearing victims

One of their daughters fled their home and pleaded for help to a 911 operator

Most Read