Clean Air Strategy
Although the air quality in the Central Okanagan is generally good. Research indicates that specific neighbourhoods may reach unhealthy levels. In 2007, open burning and residential wood burning were identified as the main sources of air pollution in the Central Okanagan. (2007 Central Okanagan Air Quality Management Plan). But recently, vehicle emissions have also been identified as a significant source of pollution.
A review of the progress made on reducing air pollution, including extensive community and stakeholder consultation, has resulted in a regionally-endorsed Central Okanagan Clean Air Strategy - 2015.
The Strategy defines the Clean Air Vision and Goals and outlines a blueprint for the next five years to help the region achieve these. Input was gathered from a multi-stakeholder advisory group, staff members from the regional partners, and from the general public.
Cleaning Up the Air in our Breathtaking Okanagan
PM2.5 Study in the Central Okanagan (2015-2016)
• Appendix 7
• Appendix 8
• Appendix 9
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Smoke from residential wood burning appliances, open burning, vehicle emissions and road dust are significant sources of particulate matter. Particulate matter are tiny particles, not visible by the naked eye, but are the most serious air pollutant in British Columbia. They are inhaled deep into lungs and enter the blood stream which can lead to serious impacts on organs such as the heart.
Learn More about Particulate Matter, Greenhouse Gases, Volatile Organic Compounds, Ground-level Ozone, NO2 and Health Effects of Air Pollution.
This poster, Wood Smoke: Facts, Myths & Misconceptions is a useful resource about the health impacts of wood smoke on residents in the Central Okanagan.
Your contribution to clean air does make a difference!
There are lots of things you can do to help improve local air quality. Check out the suggestions below and review the Air Quality Guide to get started!
- Get Active - We all want to protect our community and improve our health. Choosing active transportation, like walking, cycling and transit is a great way to help our environment and improve your health. You will also enjoy the beauty of our city that you just don’t see from your vehicle! Check out the Regional smartTRIPS program for events and ideas to help you get moving!
- Small engines are BIG polluters - Lawnmowers and other small engines are responsible for creating some of the worst air pollutants! The best thing to do is replace gas lawnmowers and other small engines with electric or human powered machines. If you are not able to replace your equipment, be careful when using it. Always use caution to avoid spilling fuel, keep your equipment properly maintained, use alternatives whenever possible, and recycle your equipment properly when replacing it. See the Regional District Waste Reduction Office for more information on recycling old machinery.
- Home Heating and Energy Use - Reducing home heating and energy use will save you money and help reduce air pollution. Rebates on energy efficient upgrades are available from Fortis and BC Hydro.
- Wood Heating - If you burn wood for heating, ensure you are burning properly. It is illegal to burn anything other than untreated, seasoned (dry) wood. Check out the Woodstove Exchange program and the wood burning best practices for videos and great advice on woodstove use.
- Indoor Air Pollution - Household products ranging from new carpets to air fresheners to cleaning products can contain toxic chemicals that negatively impact indoor air quality and affect your health. For information on indoor air pollutants see the EPA guide to indoor air quality. You can also access important information about indoor quality at Interior Health.
- Dust control- dust is Particulate Matter (PM) which come primarily from the soil. It is suspended in the air by wind action and human activities and can travel 100-1000m affecting everyone’s health. You can keep it under control by simply applying a bit of water while street sweeping. Do your part and your family and neighbours will breath better.
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Indoor Air Quality
As people spend approximately 90% of their time indoors, the quality of the indoor environment is an important consideration for health. Indoor environments can be contaminated by chemical and organic pollutants that migrate from outdoors or that result from gas stoves and other indoor sources, such as building materials, pets, radon, and environmental tobacco smoke.
Indoor air contaminants
Air contaminants are pollutants that are present in the air and can put your health at risk. There are 3 main types of air pollutants:
- Biological pollutants from living organisms like:
- Chemical Pollutants are gases, vapours and particles:
- Radiological pollutants are radioactive substances
Improve Indoor Air Quality
The most effective way to reduce indoor air pollution is to remove or reduce the source of contamination. Get a quick glimpse of some of the most important ways to protect the air in your home by touring the Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) House. Check other tips for healthier air in your home.
Radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking. Radon is a naturally occurring gas found in the ground throughout the world. Most homes that are in contact with the ground will contain some amount of radon gas. The only way to know the level of radon is to test for radon in indoor places. To learn more about Radon check the Radon Test Challenge webpage.
Volatile Organic Compounds - VOCs are primary precursors to the formation of ground level ozone and particulate matter which are the main ingredients of smog. Smog is known to have adverse effects on human health and the environment. VOCs are emitted by a wide array of products. Check the main sources of VOC’s in the Central Okanagan.
- Green Products and Alternatives - The Canadian EcoLogo (also known as Environmental Choice) helps you identify products and services that have been independently certified to meet strict environmental standards that reflect their entire life cycle — from manufacturing to disposal. GREENGUARD and ECOLOGO® marks are now recognized and referenced in more than 900 sustainable product specifications and purchasing guidelines. There are other environmental logos and green certification programs beyond those intended for cleaning products, like Green Seal and EcoCert for organic and environmental certifications.
- Consider Alternatives Whenever Possible - Vinegar serves as an excellent all-purpose cleaner and baking soda works well to scrub and deodorize surfaces.
How to dispose or recycle products containing VOC? - You'll find information on recycling, garbage, yard waste and programs to help your family or business reduce waste at the RDCO webpage: What Goes Where
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Regional Air Quality Coordinator