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Air quality advisory remains in place across Fraser Valley, Lower Mainland

Drifting smoke is obscuring mountain views contributing to elevated fine PM
Air quality health index numbers for the eastern Fraser Valley forecast for Aug. 3, 2021 by Environment Canada as air quality advisory remains in effect for Fraser Valley. (Environment Canada)

An air quality advisory remains for the Fraser Valley and Lower Mainland but shifting wind patterns for Tuesday (August 3) could begin to clear some of the smoke-filled skies.

The AQ advisory update of Aug. 3 from Environment Canada confirmed the advisory stays in effect for Fraser Valley Regional District and Metro Vancouver as well, due to high concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM) in the air for the next couple of days.

Drifting smoke from wildfires in the Interior and Washington State pushing into the region and obscuring mountain views, has been contributing to elevated fine PM concentrations and hazy skies.

“Onshore winds forecast for today may begin to clear the smoke,” according to the Aug. 3 update.

The air quality health index for the Eastern Fraser Valley and Lower Mainland was in the low range (1-3) Tuesday morning and was expected to reach moderate levels by evening (4-7) across the valley.

Smoke concentrations can vary widely across the region, especially moving east through the funnel-shaped valley where winds and temperatures can fluctuate, as wildfire behaviour changes.

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.

Anyone with chronic underlying conditions or OVID-19 should postpone or reduce outdoor physical activity until the advisory is lifted, especially if breathing feels uncomfortable. Exposure to PM2.5 is particularly a concern for people with underlying conditions such as lung disease, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma and/or diabetes; individuals with respiratory infections such as COVID-19; pregnant women and infants; children; and older adults. Individuals who are socially marginalized may also be at elevated risk (e.g. people who are experiencing homelessness or are underhoused).

RELATED: First visible smoke moved in last week

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Smoky skies were visible Aug. 1, 2021 in Chilliwack as the air quality advisory for the Fraser Valley continues. (Jennifer Feinberg/ Chilliwack Progress)

Jennifer Feinberg

About the Author: Jennifer Feinberg

I have been a Chilliwack Progress reporter for 20+ years, covering the arts, city hall, as well as Indigenous, and climate change stories.
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