Environment Canada issued smokey skies bulletins for parts of Vancouver Island Wednesday morning, saying northern and eastern municipalities are expected to be impacted by wildfire smoke.
In special air quality statements, the weather agency says areas from Duncan to Port Hardy will likely be impacted over the next 24 to 48 hours, if they aren’t already, by smokey skies.
The smoke, wafting from wildfires burning on the Island, B.C.’s Mainland and in Washington state, should be visible in Duncan, including Ladysmith and Shawnigan Lake; Nanaimo, including Cedar, South Wellington and Cassidy; parts of the Central Island like Nanoose Bay, Parksville and Coombs, as well as Deman, Hornby and Lasqueti islands.
The Comox Valley and Campbell River areas, along with Sayward, Woss, Alert Bay, Port Alice, Port McNeill and Port Hardy, are also expected to be impacted by the wildfire smoke, Environment Canada said in the statement.
The weather agency says that during a wildfire, smoke conditions can not only change quickly over short distances but vary considerably hour-by-hour.
Other parts of the province, including Vancouver, the Sunshine Coast, Fraser Valley and Central Coast are also under special air quality statements.
“Wildfire smoke is a natural part of our environment but it is important to be mindful that exposure to smoke may affect your health,” Environment Canada said.
“People with pre-existing health conditions, respiratory infections such as COVID-19, older adults, pregnant women and infants, children, and sensitive individuals are more likely to experience health effects from smoke exposure.”
On a scale of one (low risk) to 10 (high risk), the B.C. government’s Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) as of Wednesday morning rates both the Duncan and Nanaimo areas a two, while the Comox Valley scored a one.
Anyone exposed to wildfire smoke should consider taking extra precautions to reduce exposure, according to the agency, which describes the smoke as a “constantly-changing mixture of particles and gases” that includes “many chemicals that may be harmful to humans.”
More information about how to reduce health risks, as well as current and forecast AQHI values, can be found online here.