Wood Smoke Stories

Dirty air in Saskatoon

5 years ago I couldn't even imagine that the air quality can be a huge problem in life. The worst pollution I've ever seen was in Turkey (middle East). When the smoke from wood burning covers all the city. It happens every evening when people come from work.

Basically it’s impossible to live a normal life when the air is saturated with smoke. You always feel that you can't think well. The main feature of developing world countries is the abysmal air that always smells of smoke (In such countries people not only burn wood and coal, but they also burn trash (like mattresses) in their backyards. Every time you look from your window you see a huge fire and smoke in some area.

Now I am in Canada (Saskatoon). The air quality here is also abysmal.

At first we started to live among private houses. After 5 months I was woken up almost every night because all my room was in smoke. Someone nearby was burning wood at night, as I couldn’t sleep when the window was closed. It was one month of horror for me. So we ran away from that place to the downtown, expecting that there won’t be any smoke here.

We moved to the Saskatoon downtown in a high concrete building, no private houses near by. I was hoping to live well. But people here (In Saskatoon) have no understanding at all about what is fresh air. The air outside (even in downtown) always smells of smoke or toxic diesel fumes. 8 of 10 times when I come from the street my hair smells of smoke, sometimes the odor is so bad I have to wash my hair right away.…

I am a perfectly heathy person, I train every day, but this stinky air makes the quality of my life here very low. Now it’s winter time. And there is a public ice rink nearby. The local company Meewasin installed a WOOD BURNING barrel on the ice rink. Now all this place stinks as hell, a big portion of park near by is covered by smoke, and I can’t walk there anymore.

When I contacted the company and asked why don’t they use a fireplace that works on gas, and who even needs a wood burning barrel? (It’s like in the African market). I was told that this wood burning barrel creates a ”welcoming atmosphere'.”

I see many people on that ice rink staying with their kids inside smoke clouds. This stinky blue smoke makes me feel drunk. I hate this feeling so much! Also there are many fireplaces in local parks, they are mainly used by homeless people and they burn there any branches they find nearby, or just some trash like plastic bottles. I've never seen fireplaces in public parks before. If one person burns, all the park stinks of smoke (parks here are very small).

…There are no regulations here against wood burning at all, the most stinky cars I’ve seen in my life are in Saskatoon as well, there are no regulations here that obliges people to use some filters on diesel cars, no prohibitions on diesel cars that are 30 or 40 years old. …The life quality becomes MUCH lower than it should be. This stinky air narrows down your mind to the animal level. So it makes your life shorter and pretty miserable. It’s very sad that most people haven’t changed at all and are still the same as they were in the old past (when a half naked dirty man was living in a cave, covered by dirt, inhaling the smoke from his fire). I think it is the only reason why most of people are absolutely fine with inhaling any smoke.