Media Releases



A new Visual Air Quality Rating will show how often air pollution is spoiling the spectacular views of the Lower Fraser Valley. Monitoring visual air quality can provide an early warning that the quality of the air we breathe is deteriorating. It is especially useful to monitor visual air quality as it can become impaired before pollutant limits that protect our health are exceeded. This new tool will help Metro Vancouver and its partners continue to improve air quality and protect human health and the environment. "Having clean, clear air is vital to the livability of our region," said Derek Corrigan, Chair of Metro Vancouver’s Climate Action Committee. "This is a valuable collaborative project that will provide Metro Vancouver residents with a tool to better understand that the environment in which we live, work, and play is among the highest quality in the world." The new Visual Air Quality Rating reflects how clear our views of ocean panoramas, city skylines, and mountain vistas are. It was developed using surveys of residents of the Lower Fraser Valley, and measurements made at four monitoring stations in our airshed. The Visual Air Quality Rating is published at and updated hourly. Some familiar examples of impaired visual air quality are the deep red and orange sunsets that can be observed during forest fire activity, and by hazy views when tiny particles (fine particulate matter) and gases in the air absorb and scatter light. During the day, different types of air pollution cause noticeably different colours of haze. White haze is commonly associated with particles whereas a yellowish haze can be caused by nitrogen dioxide, which is emitted by traffic, other engines, and combustion sources. Fine particulate matter is linked to heart and lung disease, and improving visual air quality will help improve the health of residents in Metro Vancouver and the Lower Fraser Valley. Metro Vancouver worked with Environment Canada, Health Canada, the BC Ministry of Environment, and the Fraser Valley Regional District to jointly develop the Visual Air Quality Rating as part of the Clear Air BC initiative, which aims to improve visual air quality in the Lower Fraser Valley, and provide a framework to address visual air quality impairment in other parts of BC and Canada. Metro Vancouver’s action on visual air quality complements existing air quality management programs like the woodstove exchange and diesel emission reduction programs. Read more about the causes and effects of visual air quality impairment, and learn more about clean air in BC.