Vancouver cools down slightly but the air is getting smokier

May 16 2023, 5:07 pm

If you’ve been outside for any length of time in the city today, you might be feeling the effects of the smoke and smog that has recently descended upon Metro Vancouver due to the ongoing wildfire situation.

Environment and Climate Change Canada says the worst spots will be northeast areas in the region and the Fraser Valley and that the Metro Vancouver Regional District has issued an air quality advisory over the concerning levels.

But there will be a break from the scorching heat at least, as “cooler marine air and low cloud pushes in from the Pacific Ocean,” the notice reads.

However, highs Tuesday will still be in the mid to high 20s, about five degrees cooler than Monday, and still above average this time of year.

Love the heat? You’re in luck, the temperature is set to rebound on Wednesday, but that will likely worsen the air quality. As always, those in Langley, Abbotsford, Chilliwack, and more will be feeling the heat worse than those in the coastal spots of Vancouver, White Rock, and South Surrey.

While it’s moderate in our neck of the woods, folks in Alberta are breathing in a much rougher situation.

ECCC issued the statement this morning with the air quality risk at 10+, the highest risk level the agency has.

air quality Calgary

Environment and Climate Change Calgary

Anyone who had to head outside this morning in Calgary will absolutely back up that ranking.

ECCC warns that wildfire smoke can cause damage even at low concentrations. It says everyone can take action to reduce their exposure to wildfire smoke.

People with lung diseases like asthma or heart disease, older adults, children, pregnant people, and people who work outdoors are at higher risk of experiencing health effects caused by wildfire smoke.

ECCC says you should stop or reduce your activity level if breathing becomes uncomfortable or you or someone in your care feel unwell. Contact your healthcare provider or local health authority if you develop severe symptoms or need advice.

Much like with everything else, people respond differently to the smoke. Mild irritation and discomfort are common and usually, that gets better when the smoke clears.

It has a number of different suggestions for things to do to help get you through the smokey conditions.

To help your body deal with the bad air, they recommend you drink lots of water. If you have an HVAC system in your home, use the highest-rated MERV filter for your system, ideally rated 13 or higher, and set the fan to recirculate air constantly. You can also use a portable High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) air cleaner.

ECCC says you should keep your doors and windows closed if the temperature in your home is comfortable. Take a break from the smoke at a location in your community where you can find clean, cool air.

While you’re inside, you should reduce sources of indoor air pollution. If you can, avoid smoking or vaping indoors, burning incense and candles, frying foods, using wood stoves, and vacuuming. Dust on indoor surfaces can be removed by wiping and wet mopping during a pollution episode.

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