British Columbians wanting timely air quality alerts in their area can now get them sent directly to their cellphones.
The BC Government has announced that starting Friday, May 29, 2020, the air quality alert subscription service is expanding beyond email notifications to allow people to receive real-time advisories and smoky skies bulletins by text.
The advisories alert the public about existing or potential poor air quality, while providing appropriate health advice and possible protective actions, said the BC Government.
“Whether for COVID-19-related reasons, for wildfire smoke information or for pure curiosity, you can now reach no further than your pocket to find out about the air quality around you,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “This subscription service is a helpful tool for all British Columbians, particularly for those with pre-existing or chronic health conditions, the elderly, pregnant women, those concerned about the health of their infants or small children, or those just looking to spend some time being active outside.”
The air quality e-mail notifications have been available by e-mail through the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy’s subscription service since last September.
To access the automatic mobile alerts, British Columbians can sign up for the mobile service on the government’s air quality website.
According to the BC Government, there are currently 76 community-specific sources that provide hourly data to a central database where they are processed, stored and posted near real-time on the B.C. air quality website.
The release of mobile advisories comes as the summer gets underway, which can be a common time of year for poor air quality caused by wildfire smoke.
Just recently, however, Vancouver Island University released a study that showed a dramatic improvement in current air quality data around BC as a result of fewer cars on the road during the COVID-19 pandemic.