Whitehorse Daily Star

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KEEPING TABS ON THE AIR – A horse grazes near one of the territorial government’s air quality monitoring stations. Air quality testing will continue in the Yukon. Inset Pauline Frost, top, Brendan Hanley. Photo courtesy GOVERNMENT OF YUKON

Air in some areas could use improvement

While many Yukoners enjoy some of the best air quality in Canada, a recent study shows there are areas for improvement.

By Whitehorse Star on July 5, 2018

While many Yukoners enjoy some of the best air quality in Canada, a recent study shows there are areas for improvement.

Air in nine Whitehorse neighbourhoods was monitored from November 2015 to April 2017 as part of the Whitehorse Air Quality Monitoring Study. It was done in partnership with the City of Whitehorse and Health Canada.

The study found four neighbourhoods (Kopper King, the Hidden Valley subdivision off the Mayo Road, the Takhini Trailer Park and Riverdale) had higher levels of pollution, especially in the winter months.

The study suggests the pollution is due to residential wood smoke, which is worse during very cold periods.

In areas like valleys, the cold air and humidity can mix with the smoke, trapping it closer to the ground, instead of it clearing away in the wind.

Overall, there is no immediate risk to public health, the Yukon government said Wednesday.

However, wood smoke can irritate lungs and airways, especially in the young and old, cause asthma attacks and worsen chronic lung or heart disease.

The study will continue monitoring in Whitehorse and add a transportable monitor for forest fires, as well as a new monitoring location in Dawson City.

The government said it will work with communities to encourage more efficient wood burning, and will use the additional data to guide the work to improve air quality for years to come.

“We are lucky to live in an area with some of Canada’s cleanest air, but even we can do better,” said Environment Minister Pauline Frost.

“Further research, discussion and monitoring will inform government decisions that will work to improve the quality of air Yukoners breathe.”

The neighbourhoods tested were the Kopper King Trailer Park, Range Road (Northland Trailer Park), Porter Creek (Jack Hulland Elementary School), Takhini (the Geological Survey building), Hillcrest/McIntyre (Elijah Smith Elementary School), Hidden Valley, Riverdale, Copper Ridge and downtown Whitehorse (412 Steele St., the national air quality monitoring station).

“The two biggest contributors to poor air quality in Yukon are wildfire smoke in the summer and residential wood smoke on cold winter days,” said Dr. Brendan Hanley, the Yukon’s chief medical health officer.

“We can do more to ensure that Yukoners can breathe the cleanest air possible.”

In the 1970s and ’80s, Yukoners used federal grants to convert to wood heat – creating acrid woodsmoke problems in places like Riverdale when there were winter temperature inversions.

When the poor air approached near-intolerable levels, the city would impose no wood-burning orders and patrol streets to ensure no smoke was emerging from chimnies.

Comments (17)

Up 0 Down 0

bob's your uncle on Jul 12, 2018 at 12:42 pm

my sentiments exactly. I've only been here 8 years.

I have seen it go from, what used to feel like the last bit of freedom in Canada, where you can do things within reason and without hurting anyone of course and no one bothered you.

Now its turning into another town that seems to be over-policed (bylaw), that feels entitled to super-fast internet, 1500kms away from nearest large metropolitan center, and there is definitely a divide between the haves and have nots that has gotten larger in those few short 8 years I've been here.

It's too bad really. I'm a self employed trades/technical guy so i guess next stop Dawson, which has always been awesome whenever I worked there.

Up 1 Down 0

north_of_60 on Jul 11, 2018 at 9:40 pm

A "real Yukoner" embraces the history and culture of the Yukon and doesn't try to change the Yukon to be like the sh*thole they moved away from.

Up 0 Down 0

Old timer on Jul 11, 2018 at 3:58 pm

@ bob's your uncle

So what's the threshold on being a 'real Yukoner'?

Used to be that you made it though a winter and you were upgraded from Cheechako to Sourdough, the highest title in the land. For what it's worth my ancestors are original 1898 stampeders and I don't hold a grudge about any new people coming here regardless of gender, race, creed or economic standing. Near as I can tell many of the new Yukoners are harder working and more driven to be successful than many people who have been here a generation or too.

Sounds like a lot of sour grapes.

Up 3 Down 0

Si on Jul 11, 2018 at 1:46 pm

Wilf's idea to sell carbon to other parts of the worlds is horrendous, this from someone who wants to be mayor. Yukon is not for sale! You ain't got my vote

Up 3 Down 0

bob's your uncle on Jul 11, 2018 at 11:08 am

@Hugh Mungus,
I believe what Yukon Max meant was that there are the least amount of "real" Yukoners in Whitehorse, i.e. a lot are from Quebec/Ontario/Alberta.

Up 10 Down 0

ProScience Greenie on Jul 8, 2018 at 11:08 am

Many recent arrivals dwelling in the more recently built CoW subdivision seem to be completely unaware of the beauty and magic that exists outside CoW city limits Hugh. Sad but just the way it is with CoWs mad rush to pretend to be a big city instead of a medium size pleasant and unique town.

Up 4 Down 2

north_of_60 on Jul 7, 2018 at 6:46 pm

Monitoring in Yukon forests shows that CO2 emissions during the growing season can up to 450ppm at night when decomposition of vegetation continues, and drop to about 400ppm on a warm sunny day when photosynthesis is absorbing CO2. Global average atmospheric CO2 is currently 410ppm.

It's a myth that Canada's forests are net absorbers of atmospheric CO2. CO2 absorption and emission is in balance and has been for thousands of years since the glacial cycle of the ice age ended.

Up 9 Down 6

Wilf Carter on Jul 7, 2018 at 6:41 am

If government wants to do something useful, do a study on how much carbon Yukoners put in the air and how much is taken out by plant life. Sell carbon credits to other parts of the world.

Up 7 Down 2

Hugh Mungus on Jul 6, 2018 at 3:33 pm

@ YukonMax there are 38,939 Yukoners. ~24,000 in Whitehorse. Your math skills are way off.

Up 19 Down 1

more wasted money on Jul 6, 2018 at 10:17 am

Wood smoke "pollution" was an issue in Riverdale over 20 years ago when I lived in that neighbourhood. They would try to have "no burn" days.

But i'm so glad that allllll these years later they probably paid a person $100k+ to prove this again.

Up 13 Down 3

YukonMax on Jul 6, 2018 at 7:57 am

I love when the uses of "Yukon and Yukoners" are used to depict situations found in Whitehorse. The place that houses the least Yukoners.

Up 24 Down 0

moose101 on Jul 6, 2018 at 5:38 am

Well another study worth half a million states the oblivious .

Up 25 Down 2

My Opinion on Jul 5, 2018 at 9:31 pm

And we are studying this? Got to keep those university types with their parts per billion gauges working I guess. More empire building. Our air is fine check out Mumbai or Beijing.

Up 7 Down 4

Guncache on Jul 5, 2018 at 7:04 pm

When the city imposed a no wood burning order, it was done by city Bylaw. At the time they had three trained officers to check on smoke opacity. They got there training in Alaska. They also had two monitoring stations in Riverdale. Someone in their infinite wisdom cancelled and disbanded the program.

Up 11 Down 1

Notanks on Jul 5, 2018 at 4:14 pm

I have no words...none

Up 12 Down 0

BnR on Jul 5, 2018 at 3:44 pm

Hence the reason wood stoves in new installs are required to be EPA compliant. I'll guarantee you that many out there in older homes are not.

Up 4 Down 22

cleanair on Jul 5, 2018 at 2:44 pm

Stop the aerosol spraying in our skies. Coal ash dust and other heavy metal contaminants are regularly visible due to spraying overhead. Take a look up... any long straight lines are NOT normal clouds nor are they contrails - very often these plumes linger and cause a haze. Enough UN Agenda 21 genocide.

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