After the 2018 wildfire season was recorded as the worst in BC’s history, a newly released report shows just how badly the smoke affected air pollution levels in the province.
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The report, released by Greenpeace, is based on 2018 air quality data from public monitoring sources, with a focus on data which has been published in real-time or near real-time.
It focuses on PM2.5 as a representative measure of air pollution, which refers to particulate matter (ambient airborne particles) which measure up to 2.5 microns in size, has a range of chemical makeups and sources, and is is widely regarded as the pollutant with the most health impact of all commonly measured air pollutants.
The report ranked air pollution levels from “Good” to “Hazardous.”
And while average air quality in North America is good in global comparison, the historic wildfires had a “dramatic impact” on air quality in August and November, with five out of the 10 most polluted cities in the world during August found in North America.
In BC alone, three cities landed on the the “Unhealthy” metre, according to the report. These included Prince George, Quesnel, and Williams Lake, which had readings of 74.2, 72.2 and 67, respectively, due to smoke from the wildfires.
According provincial statistics, an estimated total of 12,810-sq-km burned between April and August 2018.
The totals surpass the 2017 numbers, showing 12,160-sq-km burned over the 2017 fiscal year.