top of page

Letter to the Health minister and the Environment minister

Mr. Dubé, Mr. Charette,

In Quebec, over 100,000 camping sites per day will soon be occupied by people of all ages, including those with respiratory or cardiovascular diseases, pregnant women, and both young and older individuals. Dangerous levels of fine particle concentration caused by multiple active campfires can occur depending on the weather conditions and seriously impact the health of these individuals as well as seasonal workers.

Our national parks will receive millions of visitors this summer who will engage in their favorite physical activities. Tropospheric ozone, a secondary pollutant from campfires, will also affect air quality during the day. While we drink only 2 liters of water per day, we breathe in 10,000 to 20,000 liters of air depending on our age or the intensity of physical activity. Collectively, it is time to consider the air quality we desire.

The inaction of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of the Environment in this matter is inexcusable. All Quebecers have the right to know the health effects associated with air pollution in our national parks. It is not the responsibility of regional health authorities to address this issue. It is a national concern.

The significant size of the affected population and the concerning spikes in pollutant concentrations to which people may be exposed for several hours justify an immediate intervention by the Ministry of Health.

I request that the minister conduct a preliminary health risk assessment and model user exposure based on the already available data. Furthermore, I ask the minister to seek assistance from INSPQ so that their experts can immediately address this public health issue and analyze all risk management options. Maintaining the status quo would be irresponsible.

On the American side, real-time air quality data is available for most major parks. I urge the Ministry of the Environment to promptly establish a sensor network in the parks under its responsibility, all with the aim of transparency.

I have been engaged in outdoor activities in all their forms since a young age, and it is precisely access to national parks and outdoor recreation that has made me aware of environmental issues. We must preserve access to protected areas for future generations.

There is no such thing as good or bad smoke.

Wildfires, industrial emissions into the atmosphere, tobacco smoke, campfires, fossil fuels, wood heating... All these sources of pollution have significant effects on our health. Technically, pollutants may have diverse effects on the body, but we must stop differentiating between sources of pollution based on those that may be recreational for us compared to others that already have a bad reputation. Atmospheric pollution remains the leading cause of environmental mortality worldwide.

In addition to posing a health risk, campfires are a source of greenhouse gases, and their improper use leads to forest fires each year, which have significant impacts on communities.

Mr. Dubé, Mr. Charette, I urge you to take action. Now.

Daniel Vézina

Founder of Families for Clean Air


bottom of page