Metro Vancouver has again issued an air quality advisory for the entire region including Chilliwack and as far as Hope.
As of noon Tuesday, the air quality health index (AQHI) in Chilliwack was at a four on the scale of one to 10, meaning a “moderate health risk.” That is scheduled to go up as high as five later Tuesday but down to three by Wednesday.
Earlier Tuesday morning, Metro Vancouver hadn’t considered the air quality in the region a concern.
“This smoke is coming all the way from southern Oregon, northern California and some fires in Washington, so by the time it gets here, the smoke is quite high in the atmosphere,” said Francis Ries, the air quality climate change division project engineer with Metro Vancouver.
“We are definitely seeing the impact of that smoke at our monitoring stations.”
The main indicator of poor air quality are levels of PM 2.5 (fine particulate matter), Ries said. It irritates people’s lungs, throats, noses and eyes and can cause serious problems for those with heart or lung conditions, as well as those with diabetes.
Concentrations of ground-level ozone are expected to reach advisory levels in eastern parts of Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley due to hot weather conditions.
People are advised to avoid strenuous outdoor activities, particularly during mid-afternoon and early evening when ozone levels are highest.
“Exposure to ozone and fine particulate matter is particularly a concern for infants, the elderly and those who have underlying medical conditions such as lung disease, heart disease, diabetes or asthma,” the advisory says. “If you are experiencing symptoms such as chest discomfort, shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing, follow the advice of your healthcare provider. As we are in the summer season with warm temperatures, it is also important to stay cool and hydrated. Indoor spaces with air conditioning may offer relief from both heat and air pollution.”
The advisory is expected to continue until there is a change in the weather, which may come as soon as Wednesday.
– with files from Katya Slepian