Village of Burns Lake supports request for pollution monitors

Air pollution monitor

The Village of Burns Lake will move forward with providing a letter of support to the Bulkley Valley Airshed Management Society (BVASM) as it seeks funding for air pollution monitors.

Chief administrative officer Sheryl Worthing confirmed the decision earlier this week in an email.

According to the Airshed Management Society’s president, Dave Stevens, the Ministry of Environment currently uses equipment that Burns Lake cannot afford; however, they have suggested a feasible solution.

“The PurpleAir monitors we propose to use are 99 per cent as good and only 1 per cent of the cost. The readings taken in, are viewable in real-time and online,” said Stevens in an email.

The cost of a single PurpleAir sensor is $250 according to the company’s website. Stevens said that an ideal quantity for the Burns Lake region would be six.

“Burns Lake is in an area of high relief and pooling and air flows are complex. More monitors will permit a better understanding,” said Stevens.

The organization’s decision to acquire PurpleAir monitors came after collaboration with Dr. Peter Jackson, an atmospheric scientist at the University of British Columbia, who has lectured and published material on the importance of measuring human exposure to fine particulate matter air pollution (PM2.5.)

According to Stevens, Dr. Jackson and one other colleague developed a way to read the raw data from the PurpleAir monitors in a way that is just as efficient or comparable to that of the more expensive equipment used by the province’s Ministry of Environment.

Currently, the Smithers and Telkwa communities rely on a system of PurpleAir monitors to measure air quality.

Though interested parties have yet to determine the exact sites for installation, former BVAMS president, Frits Goossen had several suggestions to make from his years as a woodstove dealer in the Burns Lake community.

“Burns Lake is basically up a hill,” said Goossen, “so for smoke detection, Centre and Fifth and Third, the mall, and the rowhouses above Carroll, of course, the hospital wouldn’t be a bad place to have them too,” said Goossen, adding that he would recommend installing one at the Lake Babine Nation reserve with their permission.

Currently, the province’s Ministry of Environment operates the single monitor in downtown Burns Lake. According to Goossen, this monitor mainly captures dust and diesel from the trucks on the highway. Stevens supported Goossen’s comment by stating that the monitor’s representativeness is based on incomplete information.

According to Stevens, BVAMS plans to collaborate with the province’s Ministry of Environment, other locals and the Village of Burns Lake to decide on the most suitable sites for installation.