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Metro Vancouver Air Quality Improves By Nearly 50%, But How Long Will It Last?

air quality

Photo: mauricelavoie73 / 604 Now Flickr Pool

Yesterday, parts of Metro Vancouver had air quality equivalent to smoking 8 cigarettes a day. Of course, this wasn’t a shock to residents, as the area has had an advisory for weeks.

What’s more, an interactive map designed by Berkley Earth illustrated how the region had the worst air quality in North America. In fact, Vancouver’s pollution levels returned to the 10+, or “High Risk,” according to the BC Air Quality Index on Wednesday, August 22nd.

As seen index below, the entire Metro Vancouver region was at “Very High” during the day:

Air Quality
Photo: BC Air Quality

Luckily, all of that changed overnight, as the Pacific winds swept across the region, dropping the index levels substantially. Most places are now showing “Moderate” risk, which is down from the alarming “Very High” of yesterday. In addition, South West Metro Vancouver was even showing “Low” levels of risk.

What’s more, the index predicts things to drop even further tomorrow:

air quality
Photo: BC Air Quality

Air Quality Forecast

Environment Canada is calling for a 30% chance rain on Thursday night, as well as Friday through Sunday. If this happens, a great deal of the smog will clear.

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.

air quality
Photo: Environment Canada

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. With that being said, the rain can certainly clear the local environment.


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