While Sunday’s smoky skies will look similar to Saturday, a spokesperson for Environment Canada says wind may see the conditions easing for Monday.
Ken Dosanjh, meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada, says there is a chance for wind to move some of the smoke away from Vancouver Island, except for the eastern part of the Island.
“We are anticipating still similar conditions to yesterday. By this afternoon, there looks to be a slight chance of minimizing the smoke concentrations, because all the plume that came from Washington yesterday is kind of lingering around,” Dosanjh told CHEK News on Sunday.
“The flow’s gonna change a bit, so kind of on the Victoria side, we’re going to increase winds more so from the west, so that may help add a bit of clearing regarding the smoke concentration.”
The smoke is blowing over Vancouver Island from a wildfire in Washington.
Dosanjh says it looks like there will be some improvements for tomorrow after similar conditions today and overnight tonight.
He says the smoke isn’t expected to completely lift and the conditions will still be slightly hazy.
For East Vancouver Island, the advisory covers the Comox Valley, Duncan, Nanaimo and Nanoose Bay to Fanny Bay.
⚠️ WEATHER ALERT ⚠️
Air quality statements just issued for more of #vancouverisland Island and now include #Nanaimo to #Comox as well as the one from yesterday for #Victoria to #Ladysmith and Southern #GulfIslands.
More @CHEK_News @CHEK_media #BCStorm #BCsmoke #BCwx #ycd pic.twitter.com/haTxDBWIP4
— Tess van Straaten (@tessvanstraaten) September 11, 2022
Michael Mehta, professor of environment, culture, and society at Thompson Rivers University who specializes in environmental and health risk issues, says with the smoke it’s important for people to take precautions because the effects of smoke on people’s health is cumulative.
“We know that over time, the continued exposure can lead to these kinds of other complications,” Metha said in an interview with CHEK News. “We’re learning more and more about air pollution exposures, as B.C. in particular continues to get bathed, year after year with these kinds of episodes.”
Mehta says data from previous years shows hospitals see higher admissions following smoky skies events.
“And we know, for example, now that there is a notable increase in hospital admissions usually a few days after these kinds of events,” Mehta said. “We know from experience and from the data, that people are more likely to suffer from strokes and heart attacks, and, of course, asthma attacks and things like that. So it’s really important to protect yourself.”
Mehta says it’s especially important for people with health conditions to reduce the risk of smoke damage, but also for people without health risks to avoid the cumulative damage.
Steps he suggests taking are not exercising outdoors to reduce taking deep breaths that will get the smoke and particles deep in your lungs, wearing an N95 outdoors to filter out particles, and not taking children or pets outside more than necessary.
For indoors, he suggests investing in a HEPA filtration system to filter the air inside.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people who contracted the virus now are suffering from long-COVID, and Mehta says smoke damage can exacerbate the symptoms of the illness.
“There are now several studies, a handful of really good studies that show that exposure to air pollution while you have COVID, or once you’ve had COVID, if there’s been damage can really exacerbate it because of the inflammatory response,” he said.
“When you’re exposed to smoke, in particular, the chemicals and then the gas in smoke, create an inflammatory response in your blood vessels where they all of a sudden contract and in some cases, they can of course, over time, stiffen. The plaque in the arteries can come off and that’s how it ends up with blood clots, stroke and everything else. So if you’ve already got a really compromised system, because of COVID, I would definitely take extra precautions.”
Mehta has been involved in setting up the Purple Air network in B.C., which is a network of people who set up air quality monitors that automatically upload the data to the Purple Air map.
He says this can be helpful in communities that do not have provincial or federal air quality monitors. The Purple Air website measures using the U.S. EPA Air Quality Index scale, so the numbers do not directly line up with readings from Environment and Climate Change Canada.
On Sunday, the readings for most of those communities was sitting at a 3 or 4 on the health index, which is a low to moderate risk.
Duncan was reading at a 10+ in the morning, which is a very high risk, and Dosanjh says this was because some rain brought the smoke closer to the surface. By 2 p.m. the level was at 9.
Victoria/Saanich, West Shore and Nanaimo were sitting at a 7, 6,and 5 respectively, which is in the moderate range of risk.
Below are some viewer photos of the smoky skies. If you have a photo you would like to be included, please email it to [email protected]