Metro Vancouver is now issuing an Air Quality Advisory for Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley Regional District because of high concentrations of fine particulate matter that are expected during the next few days. Smoke from wildfires burning in the interior of B.C. and Washington has moved into and over our region, contributing to elevated fine particulate matter concentrations and hazy skies. Onshore winds forecast for Tuesday may begin to clear the smoke.Smoke concentrations may vary widely across the region as winds and temperatures change, and as wildfire behaviour changes.Fine particulate matter, also known as PM2.5, refers to airborne solid or liquid droplets with a diameter of 2.5 micrometres or less. PM2.5 can easily penetrate indoors because of its small size.Persons with chronic underlying medical conditions or acute infections such as COVID-19 should postpone or reduce outdoor physical activity until the advisory is lifted, especially if breathing feels uncomfortable. Exposure to PM2.5 is particularly a concern for people with underlying conditions such as lung disease, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma and/or diabetes; individuals with respiratory infections such as COVID-19; pregnant women and infants; children; and older adults. Individuals who are socially marginalized may also be at elevated risk (e.g. people who are experiencing homelessness or are underhoused).As we are in the summer season with warm temperatures, it is also important to stay cool and hydrated. Indoor spaces with HEPA air cleaner filtration and air conditioning may offer relief from both heat and air pollution, but please observe any COVID-19 protocols. If you are experiencing symptoms such as chest discomfort, shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing, seek prompt medical attention. Call 9-1-1 in the case of an emergency.Metro Vancouver works in cooperation with Environment and Climate Change Canada, Fraser Valley Regional District and B.C. Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy to look after air quality.Information about real-time air quality readings for Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley communities and potential health impacts can be found at www.airmap.ca  and www.env.gov.bc.ca/epd/bcairquality/readings/find-stations-map.html.BACKGROUNDER
What is fine particulate matter?Fine particulate matter, also known as PM2.5, refers to airborne solid or liquid droplets with a diameter of 2.5 micrometres or less. PM2.5 can easily penetrate indoors because of its small size. PM2.5 concentrations tend to be highest around busy roads, industrial operations and major ports, as well as areas with residential wood burning.
Tips to reduce your personal health risk:Avoid roads with heavy vehicle traffic and areas with wood smoke.Stay cool and drink plenty of water.Continue to manage acute infections such as COVID-19, or pre-existing chronic medical conditions such as lung disease, heart disease, COPD, asthma and/or diabetes. If symptoms continue to be bothersome, seek medical attention.Maintaining good overall health and avoiding smoking is a good way to prevent health effects resulting from short-term exposure to air pollution.Most masks worn to reduce transmission of COVID-19 provide limited protection from fine particulate matter, though a tightly-fitted, multi-layer mask can help to reduce exposure.
And especially for persons with chronic underlying medical conditions:Stay in a cool, air-conditioned environment and reduce indoor pollution sources such as smoking, burning other materials, and vacuuming.Run an air cleaner. Some room air cleaners, such as those with HEPA filters, can help reduce indoor particulate levels provided they are the right size for your home and filters are changed regularly.Consider taking shelter in air-conditioned buildings which have large indoor volumes and limited entry of outdoor air, but be aware that space may be limited due to physical distancing guidelines for COVID-19 and any COVID-19 protocols must be observed.
Voluntary emission reduction actionsReducing sources of fine particulates throughout Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley will be beneficial to air quality. Actions people can take:Minimize the use of diesel powered equipment.Follow local regulations for recreational fires. Avoid lighting a fire where possible.
Additional InformationFine particulate matter is emitted from transportation sources, non-road engines, heating and burning.Fine particulate matter levels are compared to medium-term (24-hour) objectives.Under provincial legislation, Metro Vancouver is responsible for monitoring air quality, controlling industrial, commercial and some residential emissions, creating long-term plans, and conducting emission inventories for the Metro Vancouver region.To help reduce air emissions throughout the Lower Mainland, Metro Vancouver works cooperatively with Fraser Valley Regional District, B.C. Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, Environment and Climate Change Canada and other agencies to develop and implement emission reduction programs for businesses and local residents. Further information about air quality programs in the region can be found on Metro Vancouver's website at www.metrovancouver.org.