Sherman Road smog debacle

Strong call to ban wood-fire altogether, with all the malpractice at play I can’t blame people.

Sherman Road smog debacle

Last Wednesday evening I took my two sons and their friend up to Sherman Road soccer fields to kick a ball around. It was a beautiful evening, with the sunset breaking through the clouds after days of heavy rain. Unfortunately, our experience, and that of the 80 or so other youth soccer players present was heavily clouded by the folly of a nearby neighbour who lit a backyard slash pile that proceeded to smoulder and spread a dense smog of particulate matter across the playing fields for over 2 hours. As one of my children suffers from bouts of asthma, i found this of grave concern.

No less damaging was how the smouldering mess fueled faulty assumptions about the inherent ‘dirtiness’ of wood-fire. Smoke only escapes a fire and enters the atmosphere (to become a pollutant) when it has not reached a hot enough temperature to ignite. Gas/smoke/fuel is released from the wood at around 150c, but ignition only occurs above 300c. Complete combustion of all volatiles only occurs above 600c, and the hotter the better.

Masonry heaters and rocket mass heaters routinely achieve temperatures well over 600c because they are designed to ‘burn hot and store the heat’. Modern metal box stoves with well-maintained reburn chambers can also achieve a clean burn so long as they are operated properly. But to make an outdoor fire burn relatively clean one has to build up a tall narrow core so that the smoke from the perimeter is drawn into the central flame path and upwards. This requires almost constant attention, and is virtually impossible when adding damp material – which our soccer field neighbour was no doubt attempting to do.

I know there has been a strong call in recent years to ban wood-fire altogether, and with all the malpractice at play I can’t blame people. That said, if we are really going to get off the fossil fuel sauce in time to avert major environmental/social/economic catastrophe, then we had best wake up from our ‘flick of a switch’ energy ignorance, and (re)discover how to burn bio-mass in a clean and efficient manner. The answers are clearly available, we just have to seek beyond the smog of faulty assumptions and multi-generational bad burning habits.

Patrick Amos

Glenora

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Furstenau accuses Horgan of politicizing new Cowichan hospital as premier makes Valley campaign stop

Premier suggests that new facility hinges on re-election of NDP government

Cowichan Performing Arts Centre streaming new short film tonight

Standing By has been created and performed by Cowichan-raised actor Nicole Ratjen.

Who’s running in Cowichan?

A list of Cowichan candidates for the upcoming provincial election

Original drums recovered amid offers to replace stolen Chemainus church set

Chemainus United Church grateful for actions of a caring community

105 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death as health officials urge B.C. to remember safety protocols

There are currently 1268 active cases, with 3,337 people under public health monitoring

Orange Shirt Day lessons of past in today’s classrooms

Phyllis Webstad, who attended St. Joseph’s Mission Residential School in British Columbia, is credited for creating the movement

Greens’ Furstenau fires at NDP, Liberals on pandemic recovery, sales tax promise

She also criticized the NDP economic recovery plan, arguing it abandons the tourism industry

Wildfire smoke expected to blanket to Vancouver Island again

Conditions expected to worsen Wednesday afternoon

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

U.S. Presidential Debate Takeaways: An acrid tone from the opening minute

Here are key takeaways from the first of three scheduled presidential debates before Election Day on Nov. 3

B.C. nurses report rise in depression, anxiety, exhaustion due to pandemic

A new UBC study looks into how the COVID-19 response has impacted frontline nurses

National child-care plan could help Canada rebound from COVID-induced economic crisis: prof

A $2 billion investment this year could help parents during second wave of pandemic

Most Read