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

Teens charged in stabbing death of South Surrey man at shopping mall

Two youths, aged 15 and 16, charged in Aug. 16 killing of Paul Prestbakmo

Surrey family donates $125K to hospital’s children’s centre, with a 55-day fundraising campaign

Bob Hans says the initiative is meant to coincide with the 550th birthday celebrations of Guru Nanak

Cloverdale-Langley City candidate attended event with blackface characters

The controversial “Black Peter” character has been a feature at Sinterklaas celebrations

WestCoast Big Band Festival on the move from Surrey to Vancouver

‘It’s time for our festival to go to the next level,’ organizer says of mid-November event

‘Spooktacular Newton’ to close down part of 137th Street this year

Train rides, face-painting, dancers and more at annual Halloween event hosted by Newton BIA

VIDEO: Trudeau asks Canada to look to current, not past, actions on race

Liberal leader says he never spoke about the racist photo because he was embarrassed

B.C. Premier John Horgan worried about ‘rise of racism’

Asked to comment on Justin Trudeau’s ‘blackface’ incidents

Human case of West Nile virus reported on Vancouver Island

B.C. Centre for Disease Control confirmed case reported in August

Forestry watchdog warned B.C. government about Bamfield Road in 2008

Ombusman’s specific concerns re-surface in wake of bus crash that killed two students

B.C. Liberal leader says private sector development will help housing affordability

Andrew Wilkenson spoke in Kelowna during a real estate conference

Legislature gifts, clothing, travel need better control, B.C. auditor says

Audit follows suspensions of managers by Speaker Darryl Plecas

‘Really disturbing:’ Trudeau’s racist photos worry B.C. First Nation chief

Wet’suwet’en Chief concerned the photos will sow fear in Indigenous communities

Murder charges laid after body pulled from Fraser River ID’ed as missing man

Accused also face one count each of attempted murder in connection with Rudy Johnson Bridge incident

Unionized workers launch ‘open-ended strike’ at three Vancouver hotels

Workers at Hyatt Regency, Westin Bayshore and Pinnacle Harbourfront walked out

Most Read