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Things to keep in mind with air quality advisory in place

A view of Downtown Vancouver from the NEWS 1130 Air Patrol. (Darren Grieve, NEWS 1130 Photo)
Summary

Wildfires are one reason the advisory is in place for the region

The last time a similar advisory was in issued was in 2015

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – An air quality advisory has been issued for parts of Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley as air pollution reacts with the warmer weather.

The region’s governing body issued the advisory saying smoke from a wildfire burning north of Harrison Hot Springs is reaching the Lower Fraser Valley, creating a haze that may also be contributing to the increased ozone levels.

“That’s producing a haze that’s affecting visual air quality, but it also can play a role in producing higher concentrations of ozone than we would normally expect,” said Ken Reid, the superintendent of environmental sampling and monitoring for Metro Vancouver. “Right now we’re seeing some beautiful sunny hot days and those are the triggers for ground level ozone production.”

Hot temperatures can be dangerous especially if you have:

  • breathing difficulties
  • heart problems
  • hypertension
  • kidney problems
  • a mental illness such as depression or dementia
  • Parkinson’s disease or if you take medication for any of these conditions

 

If you are taking medication or have a health condition, ask your doctor or pharmacist if it increases your health risk in the heat and follow their recommendations.

The really young and old should avoid spending too much time outside and people with asthma should take extra precautions.

However, Dr. Chris Carlsten with UBC says this doesn’t mean should panic. “Sometimes people don’t know they have asthma and the air quality deteriorates and then they may notice a shortness of breath — that would likely be a less severe case. The people with really severe lung and heart disease are the ones truly the most at risk.”

Watch for symptoms of heat illness:

  • dizziness or fainting
  • nausea or vomiting
  • headache
  • rapid breathing and heartbeat
  • extreme thirst (dry mouth or sticky saliva) and decreased urination with unusually dark yellow urine

 

He adds if you start wheezing or feel like you’re struggling in the sun — go home and get some rest and if it’s problematic you should see your doctor.

You’re also encouraged to drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated and book regular visits with neighbours and family members to check up on them.

The last time an alert of this kind was issued in Metro Vancouver was 2015.