If you had a sneaking suspicion this morning that the air seemed a bit off, you have been vindicated because now there’s an official advisory in place.
In the afternoon on Wednesday, June 7, the Metro Vancouver Regional District issued an Air Quality Advisory due to high concentrations of fine particulate matter and ground-level ozone. Conditions are expected to last “until a change in the weather,” said the District.
Degraded air quality and hazy conditions in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley are due mainly to two out-of-control wildfires burning near Harrison Lake, producing considerable smoke. Expect concentrations of smoke to vary widely due to temperatures, winds, and wildfire behaviour.
There are also elevated levels of ground-level ozone, due to a combination of wildfire smoke, local emissions, and hot sunny weather.
The air quality advisory is in effect for four regions in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.
As a quick refresher, in 2017, Environment and Climate Change Canada split Metro Vancouver into five weather forecast subareas. Here’s what they look like on a map:
The air quality advisory is in effect for two Metro Vancouver regions:
- Northeast, including the Tri-cities and Maple Ridge
- Southeast, including Surrey and Langley
In the Fraser Valley, the advisory is in place for the Central and Eastern Fraser Valley.
For more information on real-time air quality readings, you can visit Airmap.ca. According to their data, air quality in the Central Fraser Valley is considered “high risk” while Vancouver’s risk is “moderate.”
Those in the affected areas are advised to postpone or reduce outdoor physical activity at this time. Some populations are more at risk from the high concentrations of fine particulate matter and ozone than others, including:
- people with underlying conditions (e.g., asthma, lung disease)
- pregnant people
- older adults
- children and infants
- outdoor workers
- under-housed people
It’s important to seek out cool, clean air if possible. “Indoor spaces with air filtration and air conditioning may offer relief from both air pollution and heat,” said the District.
Folks can find relief by running a portable HEPA air cleaner and spending time in public buildings with large indoor spaces and air conditioning like libraries and community centres.
Make sure to sign up for air quality alerts in your area to learn about them first.