As of Wednesday, August 15th, Metro Vancouver continued an Air Quality Advisory because of high concentrations of fine particulate matter.
Due to smoke from wildfires burning in the Pacific Northwest, the elevated levels of fine particulate matter are expected to persist until there is a change in weather or fire conditions.
With that being said, even if the levels drop, they can quickly return. In fact, Metro Vancouver skies cleared during Thursday, August 16th; however, authorities warn that the levels of pollution still represent a real threat to people with underlying illnesses.
In fact, Julie Saxton, an Air Quality Planner from Metro Vancouver’s Air Quality and Climate Change department, told 604 Now that each individual may experience unique symptoms.
For one thing, each individual’s level of sensitivity, combined with any underlying issues, contributes to the affects. For example, coughing, chest pain, and wheezing may be more common ailments, but other people may have watery eyes and headaches. As such, if you experience something particularly disconcerting, you should contact your health care provider.
Of course, these issues are considered short-term, but they may contribute to long-term problems. With that being said, it usually takes long-term exposure to correlate with extreme cases.
While the wind may clear smoke from the local atmosphere, it may also bring it in. That’s because wildfires have spread across the West Coast. Specifically, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and California are all ablaze. As a result, BC may have sultry skies well into September, depending on future conditions.
While the wildfires are creating the smoke, lung irritation doesn’t come directly from the smoke, but rather the smog. Smog is formed when nitrogen oxides (pollutants emitted when fuels are burned) and volatile organic compounds (emitted from solvents) react in the air in the presence of sunlight.
As a result of these conditions, people should avoid strenuous outdoor activities during mid-afternoon to early evening. Indoor spaces with air conditioning may offer relief from both heat and air pollution.