Wednesday, 30 December 2015

On why wood smoke is risky

Highly recommended video on the risk of wood smoke exposure from Dr. Brian Moench, M.D.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Shaw TV Show On Wood Smoke

In January of 2015, Shaw TV in Nanaimo produced the following show about wood smoke pollution on Gabriola Island. It features two of Gabriola Island Clean Air Society founders: David Boehm and Michael Mehta.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Learn about TZOA - A wearable air quality monitor

An interesting new company has been formed to market wearable environmental monitors. Check out the following video.

Show the love, support clean air in your community

A new non-profit has been started called the Gabriola Island Clean Air Society.

How clean are the emissions from a SUV?

In August 2015 we decided to test the PM 2.5 levels from a 2013 Ford Explorer with a V8 engine. The nephelometer was positioned 15cm away from the exhaust pipe on a calm day. After several minutes of readings on a warmed up engine, the PM 2.5 levels ranged between 8 and 11 with a modal response of approximately 8.5. Here's a photo of the experiment,

This shows us how clean vehicles emissions are when compared to woodsmoke fires.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Comparing Fuel Prices

Dave Neads found this article with this chart at the end. Dave's comments are below the picture. You can compare different fuels to see whether you're paying too much  for your particular situation.

The important part of this paper is the chart at the end.

It shows the relative cost for different fuels based on BTU delivered. Pay attention to the different assumptions, not every wood stove is equal, not every type of fuel is equal.

The heat delivered by each scenario is relatively fixed, the ratios between each source don't change. Your scenario may or my not match one of these scenarios.

When you compare electric kW to wood, paying 10 cents per kWh is the same as
paying $290 a cord 
(Pine and fir) if you use a 70% efficient heater.  Rarely 
does a heater put out 70%, most air tights are in the 50% or less
range. In that case you should pay less per cord because you'll need more so the price of wood that is equivalent to 10 cents per kWh drops to just over $200 per cord.

In other words in a typical scenario if you are paying more than $205 a cord it is cheaper
to use baseboards. But then you say your wood is free, you cut and chop it yourself from your own property.  Still, your labor has value, what else could you do with your labor and how many hours did you put into your cord of wood?

Further, a heat pump is 2 for one re kWh.  So in effect 10 cent
electricity becomes 5 cent electricity.  In that range if you pay more
than $168 a cord , a heat pump is cheaper to operate.

Plus no PM2.5, none of the 160 odd other poisons into the air and our

It is interesting to note that the hotter the burn, the less PM2.5 ,
however the higher temperatures produce more dioxins and furans than a
cool fire.  You can't win either way.

There is a reason civilization went from wood to coal to oil. Wood is a
dirty, low grade inefficient fuel.  Period. That is why it is illegal to
heat with wood in Vancouver, West Vancouver and so on.

If I came into your backyard a lit up a cigarette you can rightly force
me to put it out.  But if my neighbour's wood smoke fills my yard or my
house there is nothing I can do.  Where is the logic in that?

Thursday, 3 September 2015

About Us

The Gabriola Island Clean Air Society is a legally incorporated non-profit society registered in the Province of British Columbia, Canada. Our email address is

To see our live PurpleAir sensor network click here.

Our purposes are:

To promote protection of the air shed on Gabriola Island and Vancouver Island region from smoke and other airborne pollutants.

To work with other organizations including local, provincial and federal governments to improve air quality by identifying current, emerging and future threats that may compromise public health and/or the environment.

To work with organizations and governments to reduce risk from outdoor burning practices, wood smoke from wood burning appliances, and to help develop voluntary initiatives, bylaws, and enforcement recommendations.

To perform educational and outreach functions to increase understanding of these threats to air sheds.

To explore and develop alternatives to wood burning practices, incineration of municipal and household waste, and related burning practices.