To the editor:
Re: Air quality in the Okanagan Valley—it could be a lot better.
Each spring, the orchardists prune and trim their plants and then pile them up somewhere on their property and light this on fire.
The smoke produced is a “low temperature burn” thus a lot of grey/black smoke is produced due to the incomplete combustion of the wood. These fuels are also covered and saturated with the chemicals that are sprayed on the plants for bug and other reasons and with the fire consuming these chemicals, we have a whole new family of chemicals produced and spewed out into our valley air.
Our valley is a contained area when there is no wind to blow this smoke away so we will all live inside this smoke haze as long as the burns continue. If you inhale this smoke, the chemicals will enter your blood stream via the lungs.
With modern equipment and developments there are options to the burning:
• Wood can be chipped and used to cover the ground for weed control and return of nutrients to the soil;
• Wood can be chipped and sent to the sawmill for complete combustion thus no smoke haze; or
• The wood can be chipped and sent to our landfill to be used there as a component of Ogogro.
With chipping, the volume of the wood is greatly reduced thus making shipping or handling much more economical.
It is an old habit “to pile and burn” but we can change. Our present regulations allow anyone with two acres or more to apply for a permit to burn, or let us say ‘a permit to pollute by poor combustion’ his neighbours’ air supply.
We already have strong regulations regarding tobacco smoke in public areas so why are we so lax with regards to prunings and other burnings, especially in our valley.
As long as this burning continues, we will all inhale this pollution, even the person lighting the fires and his family.
You cannot escape the inhaling of the smoke unless you leave the valley.
This is not an anti-farming letter, it is to help us all see the light through the smoke and change can be for the better of us all.