Air Quality and Health

Particulate Matter is the Main Health Concern in Quesnel

A University of BC professor and BC Lung Association researcher, Dr. Sverre Vedal, conducted a study entitled Health Effects of Inhalable Particles: Implications for British Columbia. Vedal’s study points out that “While air pollution is composed of different types of pollutants, fine particulates (or inhalable particles) are considered a greater health hazard than some higher profile pollutants such as ground level ozone, sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide.” Studies suggest that fine particulates and sulphate together are more potent contributors to increased deaths and burden of illness than are the larger particulates.

Dr. Vedal’s study revealed that, in BC, fine particulates contribute annually to at least 82 deaths (compared to about 570 deaths reported by the Provincial Health Officer as attributable to breathing second hand tobacco smoke).

Of the premature deaths attributed to fine particulates, more than 3 out of 4 are estimated to occur in smaller population centers (outside the Greater Vancouver, Capital and Nanaimo Regional Districts).

Main Sources of Pollutants

It has been determined that the main thing that drives poor air quality episodes in the Quesnel area is PM10and PM2.5.There are a wide variety of natural and anthropogenic (man-made) sources of PM10 and PM2.5 in the Quesnel area. Some sources include wind blown dust, pollens and spores, windblown agricultural soils, road and construction dust, industrial processes, wood waste burners, sawmill cyclones, pulp mills, wild fires, prescribed burns, open burning, back-yard burning, home and commercial heating (primarily wood stoves), automobile/truck and train emissions (especially diesel), quarrying activities, etc.

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