Air quality conditions worsen with forest fire smoke

Air quality conditions worsen with forest fire smoke

2 June 2009

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Canada — Forest fire smoke wafting here from the north is worsening Metro Vancouver’s air quality this week.

The Air Quality Health Index for Vancouver, Burnaby, Richmond, the North Shore, the Tri Cities and Maple Ridge has been climbing into the “moderate” health risk stage (four on a 10-point scale) by late afternoon each day.

The Surrey-Langley area and the Fraser Valley remain at “low” health risk, or 2-3 out of 10.

“We do see some slightly elevated particulate matter levels as a result of the forest fire that’s west of Lillooet right now,” said Metro Vancouver air quality planner Laurie Bates-Frymel.

She said air quality is still relatively good.

“We’re still not up into the high area where we’d issue an advisory,” she said.

At a moderate index reading, healthy people aren’t affected but people with respiratory problems are advised to reduce their physical exertion outdoors or reschedule activities to when the index is lower.

The hot sunny weather from a high pressure system centred over northwestern B.C. is also worsening the haze hanging over the region, according to Environment Canada meteorologist Gabor Fricska.

“Whenever you have a ridge of high pressure you have very little air movement,” he said. “That allows pollutants to build up.”

Fricska said the high pressure system should weaken by Friday, bringing mainly cloudy skies and possible showers by Saturday, along with improved air quality.

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