Environment Canada has issued an air quality advisory for Inland Vancouver Island, including Port Alberni and the Cowichan Valley, saying high levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) may harm people with chronic health conditions.
The advisory, which came into effect on Sunday around noon, states that air pollutant PM2.5 is expected to persist until weather conditions change.
“Exposure is particularly a concern for individuals with chronic conditions such as asthma, COPD, heart disease, and diabetes; respiratory infections such as COVID-19; pregnant women, infants, and older adults,” according to Environment Canada.
The weather agency, in collaboration with Island Health, urges people with medical conditions or acute infection to postpone or reduce strenuous exercise and, where appropriate, maintain physical distancing until the advisory is lifted.
“Anyone experiencing symptoms such as continuing eye or throat irritation, chest discomfort, shortness of breath, cough or wheezing, should follow the advice of their health-care provider. Staying indoors helps to reduce particulate matter exposure,” it said.
PM2.5 refers to airborne solid or liquid droplets with diameters of 2.5 micrometres or less, with levels usually highest around neighbourhoods with residential wood burning, as well as busy roads and industrial operations due to emissions, Environment Canada explains.
Real-time air quality observations and information regarding the health effects of air pollution, along with information on current air quality, can be found online here.