Letter: Improving our air will improve our health

For the past week or two, I have not been able to open my window for fresh air

Improving our air will improve our health

Air pollution harms us at much lower levels than previously believed. In fact, the World Health Organization recently stated that no level of air pollution is safe.

Studies show air pollution can reduce intelligence. It causes heart attacks, strokes, lung disease, diabetes, dementia, problems with the liver, bladder, bones, skin — virtually any of our organs, in fact. It can cause problems for children, fertility, and the developing fetus.

Toxins in the air cause inflammation in the body. Tiny particles can pass from the lungs into the bloodstream, where they can end up causing harm to any organ.

I live near downtown Duncan. For the past week or two, I have not been able to open my window for fresh air. Both day and night, outside air has been full of woodsmoke — even though it’s not yet very cold.

We can improve the health of ourselves and our Cowichan Valley friends and neighbours. If you have an alternative, please don’t use woodstoves for heat. Our air is contained in the valley by the surrounding mountains, not easily swept away by wind. Consider wood-burning only when other heat sources are inadequate, or during a power failure.

Unfortunately we also have many indoor causes of air pollution, such as gas fires or cookstoves, off-gassing from new items, floors or carpets, smoking, etc. It is recommended to refresh indoor air daily, by opening windows — if you can.

The WHO says air pollution is a public health emergency, even in nations like ours that consider our air clean. It is the biggest environmental threat to human health. Globally it costs trillions of dollars a year. We can enjoy far better health if we can reduce our air pollution. Doing so would also greatly reduce carbon emissions and health costs.

Grace Wyatt