Son’s death prompts B.C. parents to warn about dangers of wildfire smoke

Click to play video: 'B.C. parents who lost son launch wildfire smoke project'
B.C. parents who lost son launch wildfire smoke project
WATCH: The parents of a B.C. boy who died of an asthma attack aggravated by wildfire smoke have launched a project they hope will keep others safe. This as a Canadian expert sounds the alarm about the dangers of wildfire smoke. John Hua reports – May 17, 2024

As smoke blankets parts of B.C. in a thick haze, the emotional weight of this early wildfire season lingers over Carter Vigh’s family.

“We’re still trying our hardest to deal with everything,” Amber Vigh, Carter’s mom, told Global News.

“To grieve but at the same time make changes in the world and leave this incredible legacy for Carter.”

The vibrant nine-year-old died from an asthma attack last July, triggered by poor air quality caused by wildfires.

“The whole time they worked on him we stood there with him and told him we loved him, and how proud we were, and to just keep breathing,” Amber said.

Through their pain, his family has found a new purpose to spread awareness in Carter’s name about the dangers of wildfire smoke.

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“If the flames aren’t knocking on your door you almost become complacent, when in reality the smoke is causing just as much damage and taking just as many lives, if not more,” Amber added.

Click to play video: 'Growing wildfire threats extend beyond fire lines to smoke, health risks'
Growing wildfire threats extend beyond fire lines to smoke, health risks

Carter’s Project, in partnership with the B.C. Lung Foundation is equipping students with tools, like homemade air purifiers, to better protect themselves and point out the need for more localized air quality monitoring.

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“People need to know what they can do to reduce their exposure and I think having additional monitor equipment is a good idea,” Scott Weichenthal, a McGill University Epidemiology professor said.

As wildfires and poor air quality becomes an annual occurrence, there are growing health concerns about the consistent exposure to harmful particulates.

“The long-term effects refer to things like an increased premature mortality or even increased cancer incidents,” Weichenthal said.

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Click to play video: 'Experts warn about consequences of prolonged exposure to wildfire smoke'
Experts warn about consequences of prolonged exposure to wildfire smoke

A private member’s bill called Carter’s Law was brought forward to the B.C. legislature, calling for better air quality management during wildfire season.

But the Vigh family knows the winds of government shift too slowly.

“There’s so much bureaucracy that goes with dealing with the government that if we sit and wait for them to fund anything, it’s never going to happen,” Amber said.

She added that Carter never hesitated to do the right thing.

“He was a force to be reckoned with and he would’ve done incredible things.”

What is perfectly clear, through the love and determination of his family, that’s exactly what Carter continues to do.

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