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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Maple Ridge to recognize 2020 grads with light display at Memorial Peace Park and community cheer

Community cheer scheduled for June 20 and light display available all month

LETTER: COVID-19, like other viruses, just needs to run its course

One letter writer comes to defence of another, convinced reaction to virus was overblown

Pitt Meadows city council uses new social media use guidelines to speak out against divisive online activity

Hoping abiding by new policy will set a standard for proper decorum online

SHARE: Photo contest spotlights significant seniors

Send in pictures of a Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows senior and you could win

Slow start for in-class instruction across Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

Only 18 per cent of elementary students and five per cent of secondary students attend in person

22 new COVID-19 test-positives, one death following days of low case counts in B.C.

Health officials urged British Columbians to ‘stand together while staying apart’

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Thanks for helping The News to continue its mission to provide trusted local news

No need to get out of your car at food truck festival in Abbotsford and Langley

Annual event takes drive-thru approach during COVID-19 pandemic

New study is first full list of species that only exist in Canada

Almost 40 per cent of them are critically imperilled or imperilled and eight are already extinct

White Rock council considers allowing alcohol in waterfront park

Council mulls business-boosting measures, including picnic benches

Langley woman recalls last words spoken to mother who died of COVID-19 on 88th birthday

Verna Clarke was more than a senior with dementia who died of COVID at Langley Lodge, she was ‘loved’

Federal aid for care home systems needed ahead of second wave, advocates say

Ontario Long Term Care Association calling for more action

B.C. woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

Most Read