METRO Vancouver is continuing the Air Quality Advisory that was initiated on June 26 for eastern Metro Vancouver and the central Fraser Valley Regional District because of high concentrations of ground-level ozone. The Air Quality Advisory for ground-level ozone is being expanded to include the eastern Fraser Valley Regional District.
In addition to ground-level ozone, the region is experiencing increased haziness and higher concentrations of fine particulate matter due to a buildup of local emissions and secondary formation of particulate matter. For this reason, the Air Quality Advisory for Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley Regional District is also being expanded because of elevated concentrations of fine particulate matter that are expected to persist until there is a change in the weather.
Ground-level ozone is not emitted directly into the air. It is formed when nitrogen oxides (pollutants emitted when fuels are burned) and volatile organic compounds (emitted from solvents and other sources) react in the air in the presence of sunlight. The highest levels of ground-level ozone are generally observed between mid-afternoon and early evening on summer days.
Fine particulate matter, also known as PM2.5, refers to airborne solid or liquid droplets with a diameter of 2.5 micrometres or less. PM2.5 can easily penetrate indoors because of its small size.
Persons with chronic underlying medical conditions or acute infections such as COVID-19 should postpone or reduce outdoor physical activity until the advisory is lifted, especially if breathing feels uncomfortable. Exposure is particularly a concern for people with underlying conditions such as lung disease, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) including bronchitis and emphysema, as well as asthma, and/or diabetes; individuals with respiratory infections such as COVID-19; pregnant women and infants; children; outdoor workers (e.g. construction and agricultural workers); and older adults. Individuals who are socially marginalized may also be at elevated risk (e.g. people who are experiencing homelessness or are underhoused).
As we are in the summer season with warm temperatures, it is also important to stay cool and hydrated. Indoor spaces with HEPA air cleaner filtration and air conditioning may offer relief from both heat and air pollution, but please observe any COVID-19 protocols. Consider creating a comfortable space at home with a portable air conditioner (if you do not have central air conditioning). If you are experiencing symptoms such as chest discomfort, shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing, seek prompt medical attention. Call 9-1-1 in the case of an emergency.
Metro Vancouver works in cooperation with Environment and Climate Change Canada, Fraser Valley Regional District and B.C. Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy to look after air quality.
Information about real-time air quality readings for Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley communities and potential health impacts can be found at www.airmap.ca and www.env.gov.bc.ca/epd/
To sign up for air quality alerts in your area, go to: www.metrovancouver.org/