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Let's Clear the Air and do our part to impove the air, our health, and our quality of life

 
Citizen's Guide for Improving Air Quality 

 

How do I report an Air Quality Concern?

Air quality is a complex, multi-jurisdictional issue. Before determining who to call when you have an air quality concern, it is important to know where the concern is located, and whether the concern is an emergency or non-emergency situation.  It is also important to provide detailed information, and if you are leaving a message, please indicate if you would like a callback.  Your calls are important and help the agencies involved to track complaint information, investigate, and prevent future occurences of the problem. 

 Download PDF: Air Quality Complaints Quick Reference Guide

Who is Responsible for Air Quality in the Prince George area?

Federal Government: The Government of Canada shares jurisdiction over environmental matters with the provinces and territories. Environment Canada is reponsible for the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, and works with provincial and territorial governments to develop policies and programs, undertake research, share success stories, and provide information on environmental issues of national and regional importance.  More Information

 

Provincial Government: Certain aspects of air quality in B.C. are managed through a range of provincial acts and regulations, including the Environmental Management Act. Generally the Ministry of Environment is responsible for the external environment (i.e. land, air, water bodies), whereas internal air quality (i.e. inside buildings) is regulated by WorkSafe BC. More Information

 

Northern Health: Northern Health’s Public Health Protection division’s mandate in air quality is to provide resources and air quality health information to the public and air quality managers.  Northern Health does not hold any legal jurisdiction specific to air quality. More Information

 

City of Prince George: The City of Prince George has bylaws to regulate wood-burning appliances, open burning and recreational fires, fugitive dust control, and new industrial development (through land use zoning).  The City works to ensure that the Clean Air Bylaw (#8266) is upheld and adhered to by local citizens, businesses and industry.

 

Regional District of Fraser Fort George: The Regional District of Fraser-Fort George is responsible for providing information regarding provincial guidelines and legislation concerning air quality to its residents. More Information

 

Industry and Business: Industrial and Commercial companies must ensure that they follow all required legislative requirements and act as good neighbors in the community. 

 

Residents: Residents are responsible for educating themselves about and adhering to provincial guidelines and local bylaws regarding air pollutants of any kind.  Open burning (grass, yard waste, construction debris etc.) is not permitted at any time; woodstove burning should not occur during air quality advisories unless it is your sole source of heat; recreational fires are not permitted during air quality advisories; road, parking lot and sidewalk sweeping is not permitted during air quality advisories.  The Clean Air Bylaw #8266 may be accessed through the City of Prince George website or by contacting City Hall. Residents can also help improve air quality by taking small simple steps at home, at work, and on the road (see our Top Tips below). 

 

What else can I do to help improve air quality? 

Small changes add up! Here are ten simple things you can do to improve air quality:

  1. Drive Less. If you can't get by without a vehicle, try reducing the amount you drive by carpooling, taking transit, walking, or cycling a few times a week. Plan your driving trips ahead of time for the most efficient route that combines multiple errands. Take the PGAIR Pledge to Drive Smart for Clean Air
  2. Maintain Your Vehicle. Vehicles that are regularly serviced produce less air pollution, waste less fuel, and have longer lifespans.  Get regular oil changes and tune-ups. A tune-up can improve the fuel efficiency of your car by 15% and up to 50% if your car has not been regularly maintained.  Don’t tamper with your vehicle’s emissions controls. 
  3. Avoid Idling. It wastes fuel, time, money, and is hard on your engine. In cold climates, a block heater on a timer is a more efficient way to warm up your engine.  Driving slowly for the first minute is also a more effective way to warm up the whole vehicle, instead of idling for a long time.  Walk into coffee shops and restaurants instead of using drive-thrus, especially if there is a lineup. If you need to wait in the cold, try to go into a store or other business instead of sitting in an idling vehicle. Idling your vehicle for just 10 minutes a day will use an unnecessary 85 litres of fuel per year on average. 
  4. Consider a Cleaner Vehicle. Next time you purchase a vehicle, consider buying the smallest and most fuel efficient vehicle that meets your needs. For new vehicles, a hybrid or electric vehicle may be a good option. 
  5. Avoid Gas-powered Tools.  The small gas engines in lawnmowers, trimmers, and leaf-blowers emit high levels of air pollution at a very close distance to the user, increasing your personal health impact and contributing to smog and dust in your neighborhood. Limit your use of gas-powered tools, and consider switching to an electric or push lawn mower. Facts: An hour of gas-powered lawn mowing produces as much pollution as driving 160 km in a vehicle. The amount of fine particulate (PM2.5) you are exposed to when using a gas-powered lawnmower exceeds BC's ambient daily air quality objective of 25 ug/m3, the level at which public air quality advisories are normally triggered.  
  6. Keep Dust Down. When sweeping up gravel and sand from parking lots and walkways, wet the surface first to keep the dust down.  Avoid driving on road shoulders that have built up sand and gravel.  Review parking restrictions and help improve street sweeping operations by keeping parked vehicles out of the way. 
  7. Consider Your Fuel. If you're buying a new stove or heating appliance for your home, consider one that is fueled by propane, natural gas, or wood pellets - which will reduce local air pollution in your neighborhood and air pollutants inside your home.  
  8. Burn it Clean.  If you use wood fuel to heat your home, use it wisely.  You can reduce wood smoke pollution by burning only clean, dry and split firewood, keeping your stove and chimney clean, upgrading to a new CSA/EPA-certified appliance, and not burning on poor air quality days. Be aware of local Bylaws on wood burning (Prince George Clean Air Bylaw). For cooking barbeques, ensure they are kept clean to reduce smoke creation. 
  9. Don't Backyard Burn.  Backyard burning of grass, leaves, and garbage is a serious safety hazard and produces toxic fumes that threaten the health of your family and neighbours. Backyard Burning (excluding small recreational fires) is not allowed in the city of Prince George (Clean Air Bylaw).  Compost yard waste in your backyard or take it to local composting facilities (RDFFG). 
  10. Practice Energy Efficiency. No matter the fuel, turn down your thermostat by a few degrees to reduce energy use and air pollution. Maintain the seals on your windows and doors. use a ceiling fan rather than an air conditioner.  Reduce energy use across the planet by reducing consumption of products with short lifespans (e.g. plastic/paper cups) and following the 3 R's - Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. 
  11. Get Involved. Participate in local air quality managment groups and talk to your elected officials about ways to improve air quality in the community. If you have a an air quality concern, report it. Interested in volunteering? Contact PGAIR at info@pgairquality.com or 250-612-0252 to find out more. Check out our Programs page to learn more about programs for driving smart, and incentives for upgrading residential woodstoves.  Check out our Teaching Resources for air quality education activities aimed at youth in the community.

 

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