U.S. wildfires help make Vancouver air quality among worst in the world

Smoky haze: B.C.'s air quality worsens

Thick haze from wildfires burning in Washington state, Oregon and California blanketed British Columbia’s south coast again on Saturday.

Metro Vancouver warned that thick smoke, which had moved over the Pacific, was forecast to move north and cover the entire region.

“Be prepared for possible darkened and orange skies.”

Read more:
U.S. wildfire smoke: Environment Canada issues air quality statements for nearly all of B.C.

According to IQAir, which claims to operate the world’s largest free real-time air quality information platform, Vancouver briefly had the worst air quality of any major city on earth, while other platforms showed the region’s air quality as bad but not the worst.

British Columbia’s own Air Quality Health Index readings listed air quality for Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Nanaimo and southern Vancouver Island as 10+, or “very high risk.”

“(It) certainly ranks up there as being some of the worst air quality that we’ve ever experienced in this region,” said Metro Vancouver environmental modelling specialist Ken Reid.

St. Paul’s Hospital respirologist Don Sin added the best thing you can do is stay inside.

“These very small particulate matters can settle into our lungs and in our blood stream for not just days but months and sometimes years,” he said.


Environment Canada air quality advisories remained in effect for all of south and central British Columbia.

Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley have been under an advisory since Tuesday, and the smoke in the region is expected to persist throughout the weekend.

Read more:
Air quality advisory extended for Metro Vancouver due to U.S. wildfire smoke

Anyone with underlying medical conditions or acute infections — including COVID-19 — were advised to stay indoors and reduce physical activity.

People with heart and lung disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, diabetes, pregnant women children and the elderly are also at higher risk.

You can find more information on how to protect yourself from wildfire smoke at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control.

With files from Robyn Crawford

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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