June 20th, 2024

We all need to breathe clean air

By Letter to the Editor on April 23, 2020.

Thank you to the City of Lethbridge for helping our community respond to the COVID-19 situation. But a vital element is being overlooked: the need for everyone to have equal access to air that is as safe and healthy as possible.

Recent reports in The Guardian, The Washington Post and other leading news sources draw attention to the fact that air pollution makes the COVID-19 crisis worse. Air quality and public health experts are calling for strong reductions in air pollution, including the banning of wood fires. As a March 27 Globe & Mail article (“To help flatten the curve, let’s clean our air”) states: “We may have physically distanced ourselves, but we are all breathing the same air. Let’s do everything we can to keep that collective resource – and our collective health – free of pollution.”

In response to the pandemic, jurisdictions in Ontario, B.C. and elsewhere are banning and restricting burning because the toxic emissions lower immunity and harm respiratory health. Will our local government take the responsible and much-needed step of emphatically asking residents to avoid burning any wood, especially at this time? This could be done efficiently, inexpensively, and immediately via the City’s social media platforms and official website.

As part of local emergency measures, there should be bans on wood- and pellet-burning within city limits. Keeping this policy in place would also better safeguard air quality and citizen wellness going forward.

The World Health Organization affirms that breathing clean air is an essential human right. Now more than ever, this universal right must be protected and assured.

Cathy Baiton


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ugh! the dragon has risen once again to foul the air.


it is a female don quixote


If biff and phlushie were sensitive to wood smoke, would they offer up such insensitive comments?

For many individuals, myself included, wood smoke, petrochemicals and artifical scents represents a dire health issue.

Whenever a neighbouring back yard pit is fired up, or the pellet BBQ is readied to grill the evening steak or an artifically scented dryer sheet is tossed in the dryer – this causes me to make a hastry retreat indoors.

Air quality *is* a serious issue.

Cathy Baiton

For anyone interested, here is a link to the Globe and Mail article that my letter mentions:

The article is by three BC public health experts: Michael Brauer, a professor at UBC’s School of Population and Public Health; Christopher Carlsten, a professor at UBC’s Division of Respiratory Medicine; and Sarah Henderson, a senior scientist at the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control and an associate professor at UBC’s School of Population and Public Health.

It’s one of many recent articles and reports that highlight the importance of doing all we can to protect air quality for better public health especially at this time.