Lower Mainland, B.C. — Metro Vancouver has issued an air quality advisory due to high concentrations of fine particulate matter that are expected to persist through the weekend. Elevated levels of fine particulate matter are due to smoke from both wildfires burning in BC and the US and a fire burning in Vancouver at a wood recycling facility. Smoke concentrations may vary widely across the region as winds and temperatures change, and as wildfire behaviour changes.
Although wildfire smoke is different from air pollution caused by traffic or industry, it is also harmful to human health, especially in older adults, infants, young children, people who are pregnant, and people with chronic conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and heart disease.
Medical Health Officers from Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) urge the public to take steps to minimize their exposure to smoky air.
Help keep yourself and your loved ones safe by taking the following steps:
- Reduce time spent outdoors and reduce strenuous activities, because breathing harder means inhaling more smoky air.
- Keep windows and doors closed if possible without overheating. (Safe indoor temperatures are a priority and windows may need to be opened for this purpose.)
- Confirm you have enough of your medications, especially rescue medications for breathing.
- Create a cleaner air room in your home using a portable HEPA air cleaner if possible.
- Stay hydrated.
- Pay attention to air quality reports, especially the air quality health index.
- Spend time in a home or community space that has air conditioning, which will have cleaner air. Look for designated cleaner air spaces in your community with enhanced air filtration, however, if you can’t find one, most buildings with air will have HVAC systems that help people from experiencing irritating symptoms.
People with pre-existing medical conditions should take extra precautions during this time, including monitoring for symptoms and keeping rescue medications with them when outdoors.
Common symptoms can include discomfort when breathing, eye irritation, runny nose, sore throat, headaches, and mild cough. If you experience these symptoms, seek spaces with clean air and reduce physical activity. If you experience more severe symptoms such as shortness of breath, severe cough, dizziness, chest discomfort, heart palpitations, or wheezing, seek medical attention.
Learn more about air quality at
http://www.vch.ca/public-health/environmental-health-inspections/healthy-environments/air-quality, and about wildfire smoke and its impact on health at