Vancouver Island’s air quality remains poor as smoke from wildfires south of the border continues to blanket the region.
According to the B.C. government’s website, Victoria, West Shore, Nanaimo and Comox Valley all have an Air Quality Health Index rating of plus 10, today as a result of lingering smoke from wildfires currently burning in California, Oregon, and Washington.
B.C.’s Air Quality Health Index rates risks of a community on a scale of one to ten – with one being the cleanest air and plus 10 being the worst.
“Smoke knows no boundaries but it particularly affects those with cardiovascular, respiratory illnesses, those asthmatics of course,” said Armel Castellan, warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment Canada. “[And] the elderly, infants and even children as well as pregnant women. So it’s a very wide swath of the population.”
The B.C. government recommends reducing or rescheduling strenuous activities outdoors, especially when experiencing coughing and throat irritation. To reduce exposure to wildfire smoke, the BCCDC suggests using portable air cleaners that use HEPA filtration to remove smoke particles from indoor air.
In Central Saanich, many Islanders are heeding this advice, as air filtering products fly off store shelves.
“[Demand] definitely picked up as soon as the smoke showed up,” said Samantha Demooy, manager of Central Saanich Home Hardware. “I think the day the smoke showed up, I had three or four calls in the morning about filters and then we brought in a bunch more air purifiers and they were gone within that week.”
Another way to reduce exposure, according to the BCCDDC, is visiting places with cooler, filtered air that can provide a break from outdoor smoke like libraries, community centres and shopping malls.
The lingering smoke has triggered B.C. to issue an air quality alert for Victoria as a result of high concentrations of smoke particles. The province also issued a smoky skies bulletin Friday, stating that the smoke could remain over Vancouver Island for 24 to 72 hours.
A fine particulate matter advisory has been effect for Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley Regional District since Sept. 8, according to the provincial government. Vancouver’s air quality rating on Saturday is the second-worst of any major city in the world, according to www.iqair.com, a website that tracks air quality around the world in real-time.
Furthermore, Environment Canada issued a special air quality statement for all of Vancouver Island stating that forecast models are predicting the potential for a “significant push of smoke into B.C. throughout the weekend.”