How does your wood stove affect air quality in your area?

Posted: February 5, 2010 in 1
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(NC)—Wood stoves play an important role in heating the homes of many Canadians, and many of us have come to rely on them to cut down on our heating bill and increase our enjoyment of a cozy night at home. Did you know, however, that wood stoves can contribute to air pollution?

Firing up the wood stove can actually send particulate matter into the air which can, in turn,affect the quality of the air we breathe. The health risks associated with air pollution are many including shortness of breath, runny nose, sore throat and eyes, as well as a worsening of certain chronic conditions such as heart disease, chronic bronchitis, emphysema and asthma. While many Canadians choose not to give up their wood stoves for economical and practical reasons, knowing the health risks associated with increased air pollution is an important part of being an informed consumer.

This winter, take a moment to become familiar with the health risks associated with air pollution and why it can be so hazardous to your health. Anything we can do to prevent air pollution in our communities is good for us, our children and our neighbours.

To help Canadians better understand how air pollution can impact our health, the Government of Canada has developed new online tool called the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI). The index measures three contaminants known to contribute to air pollution – ozone, fine particulates and nitrogen oxide – and gives readings from one to 10 with the health risks associated with each number. The higher the number, the greater the health risk.

The idea behind the AQHI is to give Canadians as much information as possible about the quality of air in their area so they can adjust their activity levels accordingly. The AQHI is available in parts of British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick with more areas to follow as implementation expands across the country. You can view the AQHI at www.airhealth.ca.

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