COVID-19 means new restrictions this year on backyard burning in rural areas of Langley and other Metro Vancouver communities.
Normally at this time of year, there would an opening during which residents of low-density areas could burn brush and fallen tree branches on their yards, with local permits.
But as of March 27, Metro Vancouver has restricted open burning throughout the region.
“Under these restrictions, no new burning of vegetative debris may be initiated in Metro Vancouver and no additional material added to existing fires,” said an announcement about the new regulation.
Exposure to air pollution can increase susceptibility to viral respiratory infections like COVID-19, according to the BC Centre for Disease Control.
“This means that deterioration in air quality may lead to more COVID-19 infections, or to more severe cases of the disease,” Metro Vancouver announced. “Improvements to overall air quality may help to protect the whole population from COVID-19 and its potentially severe effects.”
“The population density in parts of Metro Vancouver means smoke from open-air burning can impact many people,” said Sav Dhaliwal, chair of the Metro Vancouver board of directors. “Reducing air pollution from combustion sources such as open burning and vehicles will reduce the public’s exposure to air emissions that may make people more susceptible to respiratory ailments.”
Smoke from backyard and agricultural fires include fine particulates, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other harmful compounds.
“While the focus should remain on physical distancing to prevent the spread of infection and reduce the number of COVID-19 cases, keeping our air as clean as possible will also help to protect our residents during this difficult period,” said Dhaliwal.