The Vancouver rain has finally arrived. And after a busy day at work and a wet bike ride home, who wouldn’t be tempted by a cozy wood fire to relax by and dry off? But don’t be fooled. A recent study showed that 16% of the particulate emissions in Metro Vancouver are a result of toxic particles found in wood smoke. Not only are these emissions unhealthy to the environment, they may also pose a danger to your health.
Currently there are no regulations regarding wood smoke in the city; however, the days of wood burning fires may be numbered. Metro Vancouver has recently initiated a program that will investigate the potential health risks caused by wood smoke. No decisions have been made on what approach to take, but based on the study’s findings, new regulations may be implemented. This may include banning wood stoves all together or regulating the types of wood stoves homeowners use.
However, if you are a woodstove die-heart, don’t be alarmed. There are still many alternative heating options for you to enjoy and pass by the wet winter. For instance, all old uncertified fire places can be fitted with clean certified inserts that greatly reduce particulate matter. Natural-gas appliances, which produce no particulate toxins at all, are also an option for homeowners. I enjoy my natural gas fireplace but I have to say, when I walk past a home burning a real log I envy them their real fireplace.
While this study is still in the works, Metro Vancouver has initiated a rebate program as an extra incentive for homeowners. Vancouver residents are eligible to receive a rebate when trading in their old uncertified wood burning appliance for a new low emission appliance.
If you are considering purchasing a home or condominium that is fitted with an uncertified wood stove, talk to a realtor who knows about current heating regulations. Not only will you be well informed, this will also allow you to prepare for any changes to local bylaws.
For more information on Metro Vancouver’s rebate program: http://www.metrovancouver.org/services/air/health/Pages/WoodStoveExchangeProgram.aspx