Whitehorse has some of the cleanest air compared to cities across Canada; however, an air quality study showed four of nine Whitehorse neighbourhoods monitored in a recent study had high levels of air pollution during cold winter months when trapped air can sit low in the valley.
Burning wood is a cost-efficient, renewable, and often enjoyable way to heat a home.
At least 15% of Yukon households burn wood as the main source to heat their home and 21% of Yukon households burn wood as their secondary source of heat.
In the cold winter months, temperature inversions can occur. Cold air, and any air pollution in it, becomes trapped or "capped" by the warmer air above it. This colder air stays low, close to residences, instead of clearing away in the wind. Air pollution created by wood smoke contains fine particulates that can be a health concern during these cold winter periods.
Wood smoke can irritate lungs and airways, make it harder to breathe and worsen chronic conditions (such as heart disease, chronic bronchitis, emphysema and asthma). Children, seniors, and people with cardiovascular or respiratory conditions are more susceptible to air pollution. Review the Health Canada information on the health risks of air pollution.
Whitehorse Air Quality Monitoring Study
A recent study tracked air quality in Whitehorse over a two-year period. The Whitehorse Air Quality Monitoring study found four neighbourhoods (Kopper King, Hidden Valley, Range Road North and Riverdale) had higher levels of pollution; the study suggests it is due to residential wood smoke.
Public Open Houses on wood smoke in Whitehorse
In Fall 2018, Government of Yukon and the City of Whitehorse hosted a series of public open houses on the topic of wood smoke. A "What We Heard
Wood Smoke Survey
In Fall 2018 a survey was conducted regarding wood smoke in Yukon. A "What We Heard" document summarizing the information gathered from the survey and open houses will be developed and will be available by spring 2019.
Air Quality Health Index
An Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) for Whitehorse is recorded hourly. This measures the quality of air in the downtown area. The air quality in some Whitehorse neighbourhoods can be poorer than the downtown reading indicates.
Wood burning tips
- Stack wood in a covered location to keep it dry
- Burn wood that is dried
- Use clean, unbleached and non-glossy paper to help start fire
- Slowly add split logs to burn a hot fire
- Open the damper all the way when starting and stoking fire
- Regularly clean your chimney and remove cold ashes
- Monitor the smoke from your chimney; no smoke or only a small amount of white smoke should be visible
Incentives for efficient home heating solutions
Government of Yukon offers incentives to upgrade to higher efficiency heating systems, and to undertake renovations to improve a home's heat retention and reduce energy use.
For air quality related complaints, call the TIPP line at: 1-800-661-0525.
For questions on air quality emissions and monitoring, call 867-667-5683.