We know that air pollution like wood smoke creates a range of health issues, from mild, to severe, to even fatal.
For example, there was a study done in BC (including the Comox Valley) that showed the risk of heart attacks for seniors goes up 19% when smoke levels go up for just a few days. That equals many more ER visits and admissions, and possible death.
On the other hand, in Launceston, Australia, a successful woodsmoke reduction program got people to change their wood stoves for non-wood burning types of heat. The result was a reduction in wintertime deaths from respiratory disease by 28% and cardiovascular disease deaths by 20% (see paper).
We are all paying the price of pollution
All of us–even those who don’t think they are impacted by wood smoke–are paying for every visit to the doctor, for every test, for every hospital admission.
BC Lung recently posted an article on their site that noted “Studies exist that suggest every dollar spent on air quality management measures drives four to 30 dollars back in healthcare benefits.”
And individuals impacted by wood smoke are of course are paying more for medications, time off work, air purifiers and so on.
Healthcare savings can support cleaner heat
So if we help people transition to cleaner non-wood heat, through rebates, low or free interest loans, or even hydro subsidies for low-income people, the savings in health care costs should more than cover the expense.
And we will all be healthier in the end.