Holy smokes! Wildfires cause air quality advisory in Lower Mainland

Smoky-sky bulletin issued from province as more than 460 wildfires continue to burn

UPDATE: The air quality advisory has been cancelled as of Saturday afternoon.

The Metro Vancouver Regional District issued an air quality advisory on Friday because of fire smoke coming in from every which way.

Wildfires in the Okanagan and Interior, as well as in Agassiz, Hope and over the U.S. border, have caused a haze to blanket the region. Smoke from the Friday morning barge fire in Surrey has worsened conditions.

Metro Vancouver said intermittent high concentrations of fine particulate matter are in the air. That refers to airborne solid or liquid droplets that can easily penetrate indoors because of their small size.

Smoke concentrations can vary widely across the region, it said, as winds, temperatures and fire behaviours change.

While most of the region remains at a low risk on the Air Quality Health Index, the eastern Fraser Valley is considered at very high risk, but set to moderate by Saturday.

A smoky-sky bulletin has also been released by the province as more than 460 wildfires continue to burn.

Emergency Management B.C. is urging caution as poor air quality can be harmful to the health of infants, young children, the elderly and people with underlying medical conditions.

Suggestions include:

  • Reduce the amount of time spent outdoors, stay hydrated and avoid rigorous outdoor activities.
  • When indoors, keep the air clean (windows/doors closed, no smoking, no burning fireplaces/candles/incense, no vacuuming).
  • Consider buying a commercially available HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter and creating a clean-air shelter in one room of your home.
  • In a vehicle, keep windows closed with air conditioning set to recirculate.
  • Visit places with air conditioning, such as shopping malls, community centres, swimming pools, public libraries, etc., as they often have cleaner, cooler air than smaller buildings or the outdoors.
  • People with asthma or other chronic illness should activate their personal care plans, and ensure they have an adequate supply of life-saving medication with them at all times.

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