Outdoor air pollutants can reach levels that may adversely affect our health and the health of the environment. Pollution is generated from a variety of sources including emissions from cars, industry, burning of wood and other fuel types for energy and agricultural activities, forest fires and more.
Wildfire smoke is a complex mixture of different air pollutants. It causes episodes of the worst air quality that most people will ever experience in British Columbia. People with chronic conditions such as asthma, heart disease, or diabetes, as well as pregnant women, infants, young children, and the elderly are particularly vulnerable to health impacts of wildfire smoke and should take extra care. Wildfires and smoke are becoming more extreme and intense as the climate changes, and some smoke episodes last for weeks or months rather than days. Such episodes may have longer lasting health effects that are not yet understood. Reducing exposure to wildfire smoke is the best way to protect your health.
The content for these documents was developed by the BCCDC and can be found on the BC Lung Association website.
Air quality advisories are issued when:
- Pollution approach or exceeds limits
- Poor air quality is expected to continue or worsen
Air quality advisories are posted on the following websites:
Exposure is particularly a concern for infants, the elderly and those who have underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, and lung or heart disease. It’s important for these vulnerable people to stay in air conditioned spaces, or facilities with cooler filtered air like an arena or public library.
Mild respiratory symptoms include a sore throat and shortness of breath. Anyone experiencing difficulty in breathing, chest pain or discomfort, or a sudden cough or irritated airways, should contact their health care provider.
Use common sense regarding outdoor physical activity – if your breathing becomes difficult or uncomfortable, stop or reduce the activity.
Reduce indoor pollution sources such as smoking or burning other materials.
Air Quality Health Index - BC Summary - Current Air Quality Health Index values and forecast maximums
Current Air Quality Health Index - BC Gov - What's the weather like today across BC?
Air - BC Gov - Learn how emissions affect air quality, how B.C. measures air quality, and how we can make healthy air choices.
Air quality and health - Health Canada - Learn about air contaminants and the health effects of poor air quality