Metro Vancouver’s air quality could be the worst yet this wildfire season

As wildfire season approached, Metro Vancouver experts predict the air will be an issue for many

Experts in Metro Vancouver are calling for smoke and haze once again this summer, with wildfires appearing to target B.C.’s southwest.

The BC Wildfire Service is predicting the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island, as well as up north, to be the summer’s hotspots because of higher temperatures and a likelihood of drought.

READ MORE: It’s spring, but B.C. is sounding the alarm on drought

Metro Vancouver’s air quality team suspects ongoing advisories in the coming months, as fine particulate matter and concentrated low ozone meet the stagnant and hot air drifting from the fire zones in the Interior.

Air quality advisories were issued on 22 days last July and August in Metro Vancouver, air quality engineer Francis Ries told reporters on Tuesday. Nineteen were issued the year before.

Ozone is a pollutant that can mix with fine particulate matter – which can come from vehicle emissions and burning wildfires – and causes difficulty breathing, as well as irritating symptoms similar to allergies and more serious concerns such as lung damage. Hot weather expedites the compilation of ozone.

What does it looks like to the human eye? Hazy and smoky skies.

During the past two summers, the air quality team has seen unprecedented ozone levels, Ries said. Mechanisms used to measure air quality levels include the mobile air monitoring unit, a truck that allows staff to move through the region to get quick and easy measurements.

“We’ve seen high ozone levels at monitoring stations which we would never, under normal conditions, have high ozone (levels),” Ries said, specifically in western regions of the Fraser Valley and in Burnaby.

“The pollutants in the wildfire smoke are very likely having an impact on that.”

Despite an increase in wildfire smoke, Metro Vancouver does anticipate that air quality is actually set to improve by 2035.

In its annual Caring for the Air report released in early June, staff estimated that greenhouse gas emissions will drop by as much as 35 per cent, while smog-forming emissions could decrease by 10 per cent.

How to prepare for smoky skies

The BC Centre for Disease Control has created new tips and online material for people at risk of breathing problems.

Tips include purchasing a portable air cleaner that uses HEPA filtration to remove smoke from indoor air, and knowing where to find cleaner air in your community, such as at libraries or in shopping malls.

People with chronic conditions such as asthma, heart disease or diabetes, as well as pregnant women, infants and the elderly are more sensitive to smoke and should minimize their exposure.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Christmas Seals campaign helps British Columbians breathe easier

One in five Canadians have lung disease such as COPD or asthma

Hope and Area Transition Society planning vaping info sessions

Family-focused events to be held throughout January

Hope’s illicit drug death rate rivals Vancouver

Small Fraser Valley district listed among top five per capita in B.C.

Westbound Highway 1 crash in Langley

Accident occurred just west of 264th Street shortly before 6 a.m.

No defence witnesses in trial of man charged in killing of Abbotsford student

‘Change of instructions’ results in defence closing case without calling evidence

B.C. woman charged in connection to stolen vehicle smash-up in Kamloops

Kersten Ina Peters was arrested in the Fraser Valley on Friday, Dec. 6

Tavares scores twice as Maple Leafs earn 4-1 win over Canucks

Vancouver sees two-game win streak snapped

UPDATED: No survivors in Gabriola Island plane crash: RCMP

Coroner confirms multiple fatalities after small plane goes down Tuesday night near Nanaimo

VIDEO: Harbour Air makes history with first electric aircraft test flight

Successful flight marks first of its kind in the world

The Grinch who Stole a Hedge: Security camera captures Chilliwack tree theft

RCMP arrives as person calmly walks away with tree in downtown area

Salmonella outbreak in Canada linked to rodents and snakes

92 cases of salmonella across six provinces, including B.C.

Meng Wanzhou wins right to more documents involving arrest at Vancouver airport

Defence lawyers allege the Huawei executive was unlawfully detained, searched and interrogated

Police say they’ve identified suspects in Bradley Kline homicide in Surrey

Kline, 26, was found dead at 7055 144A St. on Dec. 7, 2018

Most Read