Kamloops air quality is a frequent topic in the community. Clean air is important to everyone: clean air promotes better health.
Kamloops air pollution levels fall well below the provincial and Canada-wide standards.
We are fortunate to enjoy good air quality compared to some other B.C. communities and other areas of the country. We all have a role to play in keeping our air clean and improving it where we can.
Only through a collaborative effort amongst government, industry, business and residents, can we continue to maintain our high standard of air quality for the future sustainability of the Kamloops airshed.
City council has undertaken a number of initiatives to help improve the air quality in Kamloops. First, an airshed advisory committee was formed. The new airshed management plan will be presented to council June 19. Its recommendations will lead to the long-term improvement of air quality in Kamloops.
This plan is a result of community workshops and open houses as well as input from other local governments, provincial government, Interior Health, citizens and other stakeholders.
Second, the sewage treatment plant, currently being constructed, includes the installation of a cover on the primary lagoon. The cover will capture and direct to a flare any odorous gasses and/or methane that previously escaped from that lagoon into the atmosphere. Once the plant construction is complete, there should be a considerable improvement in odors, especially for residents of Brocklehurst.
Third, the City of Kamloops has a restriction on backyard burning. Cooking fires are restricted to using propane, natural gas or briquettes (no smoke). Non-cooking fires require a permit and are limited in number per year and to properties in excess of an acre.
Fourth, one of the major reasons for the street sweeping is to improve air quality. By keeping dust and dirt off the roads, the particulate matter in the air is reduced.
Fifth, since one of the largest sources of emissions is vehicles, the City supports and promotes initiatives such as Bike to Work Week and increased transit hours, to reduce the number of vehicles on the road.
With natural, human and industrial sources of emissions, air quality is never the same from one day to the next. Natural sources include dust from silt bluffs and smoke from forest fires. Human emissions include automobiles, home fireplaces and wood stoves. Industrial emissions include Domtar and Lafarge.
With respect to air quality, industrial operations or emissions are governed by the province.
When the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) is low risk, the air quality is considered ideal for outdoor activities. When the AQHI is moderate risk, people at risk (those with breathing and heart problems) may need to reduce their outdoor activities. When the AQHI is high or very high risk, children, the elderly and people with heart and breathing problems should reduce physical exertion outdoors, and everyone who experiences discomfort should consider reducing physical activities.
For example, from May 9 to May 13, the AQHI for Kamloops was low risk, but on May 14, likely because of the fire in Lillooet, the AQHI moved to moderate risk.
On average, Kamloops has two to three days per year where the AQHI reaches high or very high risk. Vancouver airport, Quesnel and Kelowna had a similar number of high or very high risk days. On the other hand, Prince George averages 10 days per year where the AQHI reached high or very high risk.
Nancy Bepple is a Kamloops City councilor. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.