Air Quality in the Comox Valley
Smoke from woodstoves and fireplaces is the most significant source of air pollution in the Comox Valley because of the valley’s frequent temperature inversions and calm winds in winter when people are burning wood as their primary source of heat.
Air Quality Updates and Information
- BC Air Quality Advisories: Provides information on pollutant concentrations approaching or exceeding limits and on degraded-air-quality episodes
- Air Quality Subscription Service: Sign up to receive important information from the Province of BC during air quality events in the Comox Valley Air Quality Alerts
- The Smoke Forecast Map: Provides interactive forecasts of hourly, daily average ad daily maximum concentration of smoke particles at ground level from wildfires
The Ventilation Index is a forecast released daily by Environment and Climate Change Canada. It estimates how well the atmosphere disperses smoke on any given day. The index is similar to a weather forecast, except it provides information on how well smoke will mix into the air. Visit the Ventilation Index page on the BC Government website.
Air Quality and Your Health
Since 2008, there has been an increasing body of evidence demonstrating that air quality in the Comox Valley is concerning due to high levels of fine particulate matter, especially during the fall and winter seasons when levels of this pollutant exceed national standards. Fine particulate matter is a pollutant that contains microscopic particles that can be inhaled and cause serious health problems especially in your lungs and your heart. There is no known safe level of fine particulate matter.
To help address air quality concerns in the region, the CVRD is working on two important projects/initiatives, both actioned under the Regional Growth Strategy:
Airshed Roundtable Project
Actioned under the Regional Growth Strategy service, the overall purpose of this project is to collaboratively develop and implement a Regional Airshed Protection Strategy to guide our actions moving forward.
Wood Smoke Reduction Program
Smart Woodstove Burning Practices
Keeping firewood dry, allowing enough time for it to cure before using, and following good burning practices is essential to reducing smoke from wood burning. Smoky fires affect the health of our families, our neighbours, and our community.
These videos by the Fraser Basin Council are also a good source of information:
Burning regulations may be different depending on your location. In areas that have a fire regulation bylaw, the Fire Chief manages restrictions on burning based on the current local conditions and the resources that are available to fight fire.
In areas that do not have a fire regulation bylaw, the Provincial regulations apply and are managed by the Province.
For more information on current burning restrictions in your area please contact your responding fire department. To identify your responding fire department and their contact information, please visit this interactive map.