A ban on open burning is in place for Nelson and the surrounding rural areas.
The ban is part of province-wide restrictions mandated by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The local volunteer director for the B.C. Lung Association thinks the ban has the potential to save lives.
“Because COVID-19 can severely impact one’s respiratory function,” said Michael Jessen, “it is especially important we do not add another breathing problem to the atmosphere by open burning.”
A ministry news release states that deterioration in air quality may lead to more severe infections and more infections overall.
There is strong evidence that exposure to air pollution increases susceptibility to respiratory viral infections by decreasing immune function, the news release states.
The restriction covers all open burning.
“Most people are not aware of the dangerous chemicals contained in openly burning smoke,” Jessen said. “Depending on what is being burned, the smoke may contain dioxin, furans, arsenic, mercury, PCBs, lead, nitrogen oxide, or sulphur dioxide.
“Also the smoke contains small particles that have a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers, which is about three per cent the diameter of a human hair,” he said. “These particles get into our lungs and impair our breathing.”
Assistant chief Mike Daloise of the Nelson Fire Department wants homeowners to use woodstoves or fireplaces only if it is their primary source of heat.
“By reducing the amount of smoke entering the air in and around Nelson,” Daloise said, “we will be helping our neighbours with respiratory issues or weaker immune systems – let’s do our part.”