Air Quality and COVID-19 in Metro Vancouver
Metro Vancouver has received information from the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) about potential linkages between air quality and susceptibility to novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
As cases of COVID-19 in BC continue to increase, the BCCDC recommends implementing measures that help to reduce excess air pollution in populated airsheds across the province. There is strong evidence that exposure to air pollution increases susceptibility to respiratory viral infections by decreasing immune function:
- Deterioration in air quality may lead to more COVID-19 infections overall,
- Deterioration in air quality may lead to more cases of severe COVID-19 infections, adding further demand to our healthcare system, and
- Improvements to air quality may help to protect the whole population from COVID-19 and its potentially severe effects.
Evidence suggests that air pollution from combustion sources is most strongly associated with increased risk of viral infection, particularly vehicle emissions and biomass burning. At this time the BCCDC strongly recommends that open burning of biomass fuels be restricted in areas with high or moderate risk of population exposure to the resulting smoke.
Metro Vancouver is taking steps to restrict open burning within the region, and following the lead of provincial public health partners in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.
While the BCCDC confirms that the focus should remain on physical distancing to prevent the spread of infection and reduce the number of cases, keeping our air as clean as possible will also help to protect the population during this difficult period.
Air quality in our region is generally good, however, during this challenging time, Metro Vancouver is considering additional measures regarding open burning to keep our air quality as clean as possible and encourages all residents to do their part to reduce emissions such as reducing fireplace use and driving less.
Metro Vancouver’s air monitoring network is one of the most comprehensive in the world. Real-time data from the monitoring network is available on the Metro Vancouver website at airmap.ca.
Metro Vancouver develops and implements plans, policies, regulations and projects that improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These plans and policies are supported by comprehensive monitoring of outdoor air quality, and tracking of emissions in the Lower Fraser Valley airshed.
Integrated Air Quality & Greenhouse Gas Management Plan (IAQGGMP)