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

Suspect sought in alleged indecent act in South Surrey

Police say incident occurred near 13 Avenue and 131 Street

New Serpentine rail bridge completed in Cloverdale-Sullivan

$3 million crossing replacement marks first of 13 flood-mitigation projects

Surrey RCMP sees increase in reported robberies through ‘marketplace apps’

Police say there have been 13 reported incidents so far this year, compared to 5 in 2019

Compromise reached for South Surrey seniors’ balcony-exercise program

‘In these stressful times anyone that can spread a little joy should be praised not condemned’

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park at large

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

IHIT names homicide victim found in the Fraser Canyon this week

Police asking for tips into the suspicious death of 29-year-old Alicia Berg

Help the ‘Cloverdale Reporter’ continue its mission to provide trusted local news

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Plan in place for BC Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

B.C. starts to see employment return under COVID-19 rules

Jobless rate for young people still over 20% in May

Most Read