Are you concerned about smoke from woodstoves or open-burning in your neighborhood? Contact the City Bylaw Services at 250.561.7622.
Concerned if there is an Advisory?
More information is available on the Air Quality Advisory page
or by visiting the BC Air Quality page
Reminder! Wood Burning Appliances are not permitted to burn during an Air Quality Advisory unless it is your sole source of heat.
Air Quality Health Index
Prince George took part in the world's first air quality health index initiative, a pilot study that provides forecasts on air quality similar to the UV index.
Prince George Air Improvement Roundtable (PGAIR)
The Prince George Air Improvement Roundtable (formerly the Air Quality Implementation Committee) includes representatives from government, industry, First Nations, community groups, the general public, Northern Health and the University of Northern BC. The City of Prince George plays an active role in this committee which coordinates air quality research, monitoring and education in our community. For more information on this committee, please visit http://www.pgairquality.com.
For information on the City's efforts towards improving our air quality, take a look at this backgrounder.
The Clean Air Bylaw (Revised March 29, 2010)
The Clean Air Bylaw (#8266) has recently been updated. It regulates the use of wood burning appliances, open burning, recreational fires and fugitive dust control within the City of Prince George. Please refer to the bylaw for specific wording and definitions on the City's Bylaws page
Wood burning Appliances
- No person shall use a wood burning appliance at any time during an air quality advisory unless it is their sole source of heat.
- No person shall operate a wood burning appliance in such a manner to significantly contribute to the cause of injury or damage to human health, plant or animal life or so as to unreasonably interfere with the enjoyment of life or property.
- No person shall install a hydronic heater (outdoor wood boiler) on any property in the City of Prince George.
- No person shall install a wood burning appliance in or about any premise unless it meets the particulate emission requirements of the Canadian standard or the US standard. A building permit is required before installation.
- No person shall cause or allow any substance to be burned in any wood burning appliance other than seasoned (minimum 6 months) wood fuel. Garbage or other noxious material is not allowed.
For information on building permit requirements for a woodstove installation, please refer to this information circular or contact our the Building Permit Division at 250.561.7611.
The City of Prince George no longer allows open burning (excluding recreational fires) at any time on any property within municipal boundaries. This includes the burning of grass, leaves, tree material and land clearing debris. The definition of open burning is:
The combustion in the open air of yard and garden waste, land clearing debris, or any other material, including burning of any of these materials in a container (including burn barrels). This does not include the burning of gas, propane or charcoal in a barbeque or hibachi for the purpose of cooking food.
Changes have been made to the recreational fire section of the Clean Air Bylaw with respect to safety and reducing emissions:
- A recreational fire must be contained in a permanent outdoor fireplace or fire pit not larger than 60cm in diameter that is designed and constructed to confine the fire
- No person shall have a recreational fire if an air quality advisory has been issued. If the fire was started prior to the issuance of the air quality advisory, that person shall take all reasonable steps to extinguish the fire within an hour of the advisory being issued.
- No person shall burn yard and garden waste, garbage or noxious materials. Only seasoned wood (dried a minimum of 6 months) may be burned.
- No person shall maintain a recreational fire in such a manner to significantly contribute to the cause of injury or damage to human health, plant or animal life or so as to unreasonably interfere with the enjoyment of life or property.
- All persons maintaining a recreational fire shall be competent to do so, continuously control and supervise the fire, and possess at the site extinguishing equipment appropriate for the size of fire.
- The recreational fire shall not be allowed to come within three (3) meters of any property line, fence, standing timber, brush or building.
Fugitive Dust Control
- No person shall sweep or maintain any highway or off street parking, loading or storage areas except with the use of equipment using fugitive dust control procedures or dust suppressing liquids (prior to and during sweeping in amounts sufficient to minimize the generation of dust)
- No person shall undertake any sweeping or maintenance of highway or off street parking, loading or storage areas at any time when an air quality advisory is in effect unless approved by an Authorized Person on the basis that dust suppression measures satisfactory to the Authorized Person will be taken to control fugitive dust.
- All off street parking, loading and storage areas, sand and gravel pits, demolition sites, construction sites and highways must be maintained so the dust does not escape in such a manner as to cause injury or interfere with the enjoyment of life or property.
Wood Stove Education
Smoke from neighbourhood woodstoves and fireplaces is a common source of both odour and reduced visibility. These, plus the health-related problems caused by inhaling smoke pollutants, add up to significant costs for individuals and the community. So be a good neighbour and limit your burning, and if you do burn, burn correctly.
What is Wood Smoke?
Wood smoke is a complex mixture of substances produced during the burning of wood. The major emissions from wood stoves and fireplaces are carbon monoxide, organic gases, particulate matter, formaldehyde, and nitrogen oxides. Wood smoke contains many compounds known to cause cancer, and other toxic compounds.
Why is Wood Smoke a Problem?
The particles of wood smoke are too small to be filtered by the nose and respiratory system, so they wind up deep in the lungs. They can remain there for months causing structural damage and chemical changes. Poisonous and cancer-causing chemicals often enter the lungs by adhering to tiny particulate matter.
These tiny particles are emitted in neighbourhoods, both indoors and out. Unfortunately, wood smoke is not only in the outdoor air we breathe. The particulate matter in wood smoke leaving chimneys is so small that it is not stopped by closed doors and windows, and often seeps into neighbours' houses. Even more smoke is sometimes released inside homes which use wood heat.
Wood smoke exposure causes a decrease in lung function and aggravates heart conditions and carbon monoxide causes heart pain. The occurrence of respiratory illness in children has been shown to increase with greater exposure to wood smoke. Wood smoke aggravates asthma, emphysema, pneumonia, and bronchitis.
Follow these tips for clean burning....
- Only burn dry, seasoned wood. Be sure your firewood is split and dried for at least several months.
- Never burn wet, painted, stained or treated wood, colour newsprint, plastic, garbage, diapers, or magazines. Items such as these produce high amounts of odour, smoke, and toxic fumes.
- Store your firewood under cover. A shed or shelter is best. If you use a plastic tarp, allow ventilation to prevent condensation.
- Burn small, hot fires. This helps the wood burn completely and cleanly.
- Never allow the fire to smolder. Smoldering fire are the worst polluters because they burn at too low a temperature for efficient combustion.
- Do not damper too much. Allow enough air for the wood to burn fully, without smoldering. Never try to keep the fire going overnight by cutting back the air supply.
- Step outside and look at the plume from your chimney. You should only see heat waves. If you see smoke, your wood is not burning completely. Increase the air supply to your fire.
Proper stove installation is very important. A building permit is necessary for any installation. Even the least polluting certified stoves will not function well if the installation does not meet the specifications for each model.
The Right Kind of Woodstove
- Most fireplaces rob your house of heat because they draw in lots of air you've paid for and suck it up the chimney.
- Don't install an uncertified stove. These stoves do not burn as efficiently as US Environmental Protection Agency or Canadian Standards Association certified stoves (CSA 415.1). New stoves can cut the amount of particulate matter by as much as 90 percent and carbon monoxide by 60 percent.
- New wood stoves use up to one third less wood for the same amount of heat.
Choose your woodstove with care to get the best heat for your home, the least environmental impact, and with proper care, years of winter comfort.
More information is available on our Wood Stove Education Pamphlet[PDF].
DO NOT BURN WHEN AN AIR QUALITY ADVISORY HAS BEEN ISSUED.
There are several ways in which you can find out more about Air Quality, the Clean Air Bylaw, and Air Quality Advisories:
- The City of Prince George at 250.561.7600.
- The Ministry of Environment’s Air Quality Complaint Line and Air Quality Index Phone line at 250.565.6457.