A man walks his dog at Townsend Park in Chilliwack under smoky skies on Sept. 12, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)

A man walks his dog at Townsend Park in Chilliwack under smoky skies on Sept. 12, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)

U.S. wildfires putting Lower Mainland air quality among the worst in the world

Vancouver’s ‘unhealthy’ status on Sept. 12, 2020 worse than Hanoi, Los Angeles, Delhi or Beijing

Anyone outside or with a window in the Fraser Valley can tell the air quality Saturday afternoon is not good.

But just how bad is it? Among the worst on the planet, according to a global air quality monitoring website.

As of noon on Saturday, among major world cities, Vancouver ranked second worst only to Portland, Ore., and worse than Hanoi, Vietnam; Los Angelas, Calif.; Delhi, India; Mexico City; and Beijing, China.

The bad air quality in western North America is resulting from serious wildfires in Northern California and Oregon, fires that are spreading into Washington State.

• READ MORE: Smoky skies expected through weekend in B.C. as 29 large wildfires burn across U.S. border

• READ MORE: PHOTO: Satellite imagery shows origin of wildfire smoke

According to IQAir.com, the world’s largest real-time air quality information platform, which uses data from Environment Canada, Metro Vancouver, and airports around the world, the air quality index (AQI) of 198 in Vancouver was second for major cities only to Portland at 253.

(See below for more photos.)

Vancouver’s AQI puts it in the “unhealthy” category, while Portland’s is ranked as “very unhealthy.” Some smaller communities in Oregon were at 400 and even higher, such as Pioneer Hills at 506, were into the “hazardous” category.

As for more locally, Abbotsford Airport was recording an AQI of 191 at 1 p.m. on Sept. 12, 2020, while Chilliwack Airport was only recording a level of 97 in the “moderate” category.


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At 2 p.m. on Sept. 12, 2020, while Vancouver’s air quality index was ranked second worst in the world for a major city behind only Portland, Oregon, things were quite as bad in the Fraser Valley. (IQAir.com)

At 2 p.m. on Sept. 12, 2020, while Vancouver’s air quality index was ranked second worst in the world for a major city behind only Portland, Oregon, things were quite as bad in the Fraser Valley. (IQAir.com)

Smoky skies over Cultus Lake on Sept. 11, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)

Smoky skies over Cultus Lake on Sept. 11, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)

There are no clouds in the sky nor fog in the air, but Mount Cheam was still invisible in Chilliwack on Sept. 12, 2020 from Evans Road thanks to smoky skies from wildfires in the western United States. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)

There are no clouds in the sky nor fog in the air, but Mount Cheam was still invisible in Chilliwack on Sept. 12, 2020 from Evans Road thanks to smoky skies from wildfires in the western United States. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)