By Korie Marshall
The Ministry of Environment and Northern Health have continued an Air Quality Advisory for Valemount that began yesterday due to high concentrations of fine particulates that are expected to persist until weather conditions change.
Gavin King, Air Quality Meteorologist with the Ministry, says cold weather the past two nights and very low winds have kept particulate matter low, and it will likely stay that way until winds pick up.
“Persons with chronic underlying medical conditions should postpone strenuous exercise until the advisory is lifted,” says the news release. “Staying indoors and in air conditioned spaces helps to reduce fine particulate exposure. Exposure is particularly a concern for infants, the elderly and those who have diabetes, and lung or heart disease.”
Temperatures have been rising and the winds have picked up slightly since overnight, which should lower the particulate matter concentration.
From the release:
Tips to reduce your personal health risk.
– Avoid roads with heavy vehicle traffic and areas with wood smoke.
– Continue to control medical conditions such as asthma, chronic respiratory disease and heart failure. If symptoms continue to be bothersome, seek medical attention.
– Maintaining good overall health is a good way to reduce health risks resulting from short-term exposure to air pollution.
– Use common sense regarding outdoor physical activity – if your breathing becomes difficult or uncomfortable, stop or reduce the activity.
Additional tips for those with chronic underlying medical conditions:
– Stay indoors, keep windows and doors closed and reduce indoor sources of pollution such as smoking, vacuuming and use of wood stoves.
– Run an air cleaner. Some room air cleaners, such as HEPA filters, can help reduce indoor particulate levels provided they are the right size for your home and filters are changed regularly.
– Take shelter in air-conditioned buildings which have large indoor volumes and limited entry of outdoor air.
Voluntary Emission Reduction Actions
– Where wood stoves or fireplaces are the sole source of residential heat, burn well-cured wood, and ensure an adequate supply of combustion air.
– Avoid backyard burning and any open debris burning.
– Reduce the use and idling of vehicles.
– Fine particulate (PM2.5) concentrations currently exceed the provincial air quality objective of 25 micrograms per cubic metre, averaged over 24 hours.
– Sources of fine particulates contributing to this air quality episode include wood smoke (wood stoves and/or open burning) as well as emissions from transportation sources such as automobiles and truck traffic.
– Weak dispersion due to stagnant air conditions is likely to keep concentrations above thresholds for as long as current meteorological conditions exist.
– This episode is expected to continue until there is a change in the current weather system.
– For general information about smoke and poor air quality and your health. Contact HealthLink BC available toll free, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 8-1-1, or via the web at: http://www.healthlinkbc.ca/kbaltindex.asp.
– For information on the effects of air quality on persons with respiratory or cardiac illnesses please visit Northern Health’s website at http://www.northernhealth.ca/.
– Real-time air quality information from Valemount and other B.C. communities can be found at: www.bcairquality.ca.