Poor air quality in Chilliwack demands more mindfulness from those at risk

Air quality advisories for the South Coast continue because of high concentrations of fine particulates in the air from wildfire smoke.

The air quality advisory issued for Metro Vancouver was extended to Chilliwack and the Fraser Valley this week due to high concentrations of fine particulate matter. Bad AQ makes the mountains disappear and makes breathing difficult.

The air quality advisory issued for Metro Vancouver was extended to Chilliwack and the Fraser Valley this week due to high concentrations of fine particulate matter. Bad AQ makes the mountains disappear and makes breathing difficult.

You can hardly make out the mountains these days through the smoky haze in Chilliwack.

But it’s not just disturbing visuals at stake when there is a sustained air quality alert, like the one now in effect due to wildfire smoke.

It also means that more susceptible individuals need to take precautions, said Lisa Mu, medical health officer with Fraser Health.

An air quality advisory issued for Metro Vancouver was extended to the Fraser Valley this week due to high concentrations of fine particulate matter, after wildfire smoke wafted into the local airsheds.

“As air quality levels have been quite variable across the region, we want citizens to be mindful and alert to symptoms,  and to take precautions to protect themselves if need be,” said Dr. Mu.

There are higher than normal concentrations of fine particulates, known as PM2.5, than they would expect, and the heat is compounding the situation.

“Individuals with chronic lung and heart conditions, as well as the elderly and young children, are at increased risk of health effects from particulate matter,” she said.

More PM2.5s in the air could lead to an exacerbation of those existing medical conditions, and people who are otherwise healthy could see irritation of the eyes, the throat, as well as coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.

“It is definitely an irritant,” Dr. Mu said.

Fine particulate matter means that the size of the irritating particles are less than 2.5 microns in diameter.

“The smaller particulates are of greater concern because they move more deeply into the lungs,” the health officer said.

Air quality advisories for most of the B.C. South Coast will continue because of high concentrations of fine particulate matter due to wildfire smoke. Smoky sky advisories were also issued for most of the Southern Interior because of forest fire smoke affecting the area.

Dr. Mu did not have any hard numbers or statistics handy on hospital emergency visits since the bad air moved in.

“But I would say anecdotally we have seen more cases of respiratory complaints than usual,” she said.

On Wednesday the air quality health index was at 4 for Chilliwack and the eastern Fraser Valley, which is a moderate risk rating, while it went down to 3 on Thursday morning. The forecast was for the AQHI to rise to 6 by the end of Thursday, and 4 for Friday.

If any symptoms are noted, affected individuals should take steps to reduce their exposure to the smoky air and if necessary seek medical attention at their doctor’s office, walk-in clinic or emergency department depending on the severity of symptoms. Or they could call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1.

Anyone experiencing any of the following symptoms, should contact their health care provider: difficulty in breathing, chest pain or discomfort, and sudden onset of cough or irritation of airways. If you are experiencing symptoms, avoid strenuous outdoor activities, especially along busy traffic corridors.

Here are some tips:

•    Use common sense about outdoor exercise: if breathing becomes difficult or uncomfortable, stop or reduce activity.

•    Pay attention to local air quality reports at Environment Canada’s website.

•    Stay cool and drink plenty of fluids.

•    Be aware of symptoms even indoors.  Smoke levels may be lower, however levels of particulates will be increased.

•    Visit a location like a shopping mall or library with cooler filtered air. Keep in mind that many air conditioning systems do not filter the air or improve indoor air quality.

•    Use commercially available high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters which can improve indoor air quality near the device.

•    Activate an asthma or personal care plan if you have asthma or other chronic illnesses.

•    Maintain good overall health to prevent health effects resulting from short-term exposure to air pollution.

•    Reduce indoor pollution sources such as smoking or burning other materials.

“We do recommend that people at risk stay indoors in an air conditioned environment.”

See local AQHI ratings at http://weather.gc.ca/airquality/pages/bcaq-003_e.html



Just Posted

These three kittens, seen here on Thursday, June 10, 2021, are just some of many up for adoption at the Chilliwack SPCA. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Find Me My Furever Home – Three kittens at the Chilliwack SPCA

Kittens were in ‘rough shape’ when they came into the Chilliwack SPCA, now ready for adoption

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Chilliwack family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A new sign was installed at St. Thomas Anglican Church on Saturday, June 5, 2021 in Chilliwack. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Community effort to install new sign at Chilliwack’s oldest church

‘We feel it’s a step in the right direction to bring the church up-to-date,’ says St. Thomas parishioner

Dennis Saulnier rescued his daughters, two-year-old Brinley (left) and four-year-old Keegan, after their truck was driven off the road and into Cultus Lake on May 16, 2020. Reporter Jenna Hauck has been recognized by the B.C. and Yukon Community Newspapers Association for her story on the rescue. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)
Chilliwack Progress, Hope Standard staff take home 7 Ma Murray awards

Jenna Hauck, Eric Welsh, Jessica Peters, Emelie Peacock all earn journalism industry recognition

A student prepares to throw a plate full of whipped cream at principal Jim Egdcombe’s face as vice principal Devin Atkins watches as part of a fundraiser at Leary Integrated Arts and Technology elementary on Friday, June 11, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
The pied principals: Chilliwack elementary staff get messy for charity

Cops for Cancer fundraiser saw kids ‘pie the principal’ at Leary elementary in Chilliwack

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Most Read