Once again the health of the population of the Fraser Valley is at risk from the threat of another incinerator with the potential to burn a million tonnes of refuse a year produced from the Greater Vancouver metropolitan area.
This raises a moral issue: Are the people of the Greater Vancouver metropolitan area prepared to foist their volatilized garbage into the air to the disadvantage of the people of the Fraser Valley? When garbage is transformed at high temperatures it is converted to ash and highly complex gases containing heavy metals and rarer metals, plus dioxins, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. It is also acknowledged that there will also be micro particles which can penetrate deeply into sinus and living tissue.
The dilution with large quantities of air makes the emission from incinerators practically invisible, yet large chimney stacks on incinerators expose the volume of their poisonous emissions. We must always remember that just because it is almost invisible that it is still a changed form of a very toxic material to all living creatures, including plant life.
There are numerous threats to society from the incineration of garbage, both biological and economic, so that not only will the exposure have injured health, but also hidden economic penalties. First of all is the threat from increased air pollution which when reaching a tipping point will precipitate attacks of asthma in both young children and older asthmatics, and increasing the inflammatory response in the lungs to patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and hence, increased breathing disabilities, and hospitalization.
The second biological threat is the absorption from the atmosphere of the biological toxins into the food chain of agricultural products as contaminated water carries the material onto growing plants and into the soil. This process is not apparent, by soil scientists can confirm it.
The economic consequences of enhanced aerial pollution are:
1. Increased visits to emergency departments by patients with asthma and COPD.
2. Increasing costs of increased hospitalization of all patients with compromised lung and cardiac systems. The extra financing required for more hospital beds.
3. Reduced agricultural yield and productivity.
4. A movement of population away from areas of pollution and economic loss to home owners due to a fall in property values by people leaving the Upper Fraser Valley for healthier zones, especially those with compromised lung function who are advised to leave.
The resolution of this threat to the population of the Fraser Valley is dependent on political decisions. The health of the population should be protected, not threatened by political decisions, hence the questions: What is the health of 1.5 million people in the Fraser Valley worth? I understand one of our political representatives in the Fraser Valley is Barry Penner, previously a minister of the environment, who should be well aware of the threat to his constituents. Public opinion should be focused on the politicians who have the responsibility to protect. If they do not, they are not fit to govern.
H. Derrick Rogers