A thick haze settled over the Lower Mainland on Tuesday morning as wildfire smoke rolled in from the interior.
On Monday, Metro Vancouver and Fraser Health issued a air quality advisory, effective this morning, citing “high concentrations of fine particulate matter.”
While none of the stations within the region have exceed their air quality objectives, PM 2.5 levels (fine particulate matter) are on the rise.
As of 8:45 a.m., station in Hope and Agassiz had recorded high PM 2.5 levels while Chilliwack was at medium-high. Stations further west remained normal-low but on Monday afternoon, BC Wildfire Service chief fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek had warned that a winds from the interior would bring in more wildfire smoke over Tuesday and Wednesday.
Fraser Health medical health officer Dr. Andrew Larder said that healthy adults in the Lower Mainland shouldn’t be concerned – yet.
“Air quality at the moment is not too bad,” said Larder. “The east is the worst because air is coming out from interior.”
Conditions are expected to change for the worse as the week goes on, Larder said. He noted that people with chronic lung and heart conditions are most at risk but are also the most likely to be prepared with ‘poor air quality plans.’
“Healthy adults only affected when air quality gets quite severe,” he said. For now, people can continue on with their daily routines uninterrupted – with a few caveats.
“If you’re a marathon runner, maybe do a shorter run.”
The incoming heat wave will compound that risk, Larder warned.
“It’s a double whammy in that we’ve got high temperatures and poor air quality,” he said.
Apart from those with chronic conditions, small children, the elderly and the homeless can be at risk. The latter, Larder said, should check in with shelters and other service providers.
WorkSafeBC is warning outdoor workers to take precautions. Between 2007-2016, WorkSafeBC saw 94 accepted claims for heat stress-related injuries.
Employers should monitor air quality, not have workers out alone and adjust work practices to limit exposure to heat and smoke.
Forecasts predict more smoke moving into the Lower Mainland: