Air Quality Advisory Issued - August 12
August 12, 2021
An Air Quality Advisory for the Fraser Valley Regional District has been issued because of high concentrations of fine particulate matter that are expected over the next few days.
Outflow winds are bringing smoke from wildfires burning in B.C. and Washington into and over the region, contributing to elevated fine particulate matter concentrations and hazy skies. Smoke is currently impacting the central and eastern Fraser Valley and is expected to also reach other areas today or tomorrow. Smoke concentrations may vary widely across the region as winds and temperatures change, and as wildfire behaviour changes.
In addition to fine particulate matter, Metro Vancouver is issuing an Air Quality Advisory for eastern Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley Regional District because of high concentrations of ground-level ozone as a result of hot and sunny weather. The current weather forecast indicates hot temperatures through at least tomorrow.
Ground-level ozone is not emitted directly into the air. It is formed when nitrogen oxides (pollutants emitted when fuels are burned) and volatile organic compounds (emitted from solvents and other sources) react in the air in the presence of sunlight. The highest levels of ground-level ozone are generally observed between mid-afternoon and early evening on summer days.
Fine particulate matter, also known as PM2.5, refers to airborne solid or liquid droplets with a diameter of 2.5 micrometres or less. PM2.5 can easily penetrate indoors because of its small size.
- Persons with chronic underlying medical conditions or acute infections such as COVID-19 should postpone or reduce outdoor physical activity until the advisory is lifted, especially if breathing feels uncomfortable.
- Exposure is particularly a concern for people with underlying conditions such as lung disease, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) including bronchitis and emphysema, as well as asthma, and/or diabetes; individuals with respiratory infections such as COVID-19; pregnant women and infants; children; outdoor workers (e.g. construction and agricultural workers); and older adults.
- Individuals who are socially marginalized may also be at elevated risk (e.g. people who are experiencing homelessness or are underhoused).
As we are in the summer season with warm temperatures, it is also important to stay cool and hydrated. Indoor spaces with HEPA air cleaner filtration and air conditioning may offer relief from both heat and air pollution, but please observe any COVID-19 protocols. Consider creating a comfortable space at home with a portable air conditioner (if you do not have central air conditioning). If you are experiencing symptoms such as chest discomfort, shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing, seek prompt medical attention. Call 9-1-1 in the case of an emergency.
Metro Vancouver works in cooperation with Environment and Climate Change Canada, Fraser Valley Regional District and B.C. Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy to look after air quality.
Information about real-time air quality readings for Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley communities and potential health impacts can be found at www.airmap.ca and www.env.gov.bc.ca/epd/bcairquality/readings/find-stations-map.html.
For more information, contact:
Metro Vancouver Information Centre at 604-432-6200