UPDATED: Langley humans – and horses – react to smoky skies

Smoky conditions and poor air quality will continue.

Langley residents are reacting to poor air quality due to wildfire smoke that has hung over the community since Tuesday.

In Langley Township, there have been no cancellations of rec activities, but day camp staff have planned more indoor activities for this week due to the heat and air quality.

There has also been an increased attendance at indoor and outdoor public pools, as people apparently seek relief from the heat.

Humans aren’t the only ones being advised to take it easy on exercise until the smoke haze lifts.

Horse owners are being a bit cautious as well, said Kelly Coughlin, manager of agriculture and industry for the Horse Council of B.C.

“It’s similar to people, just no strenuous exercise,” Coughlin said.

Unless an individual horse has a past bad association with smoke, they don’t seem to be worried about the smell of it in the air, she said.

Some horse owners are being quite careful.

“Not riding as long, taking more breaks, not cantering,” said Michelle Ingall of the precautions she’s taking while riding her horse, Eddie, in Campbell Valley Regional Park in South Langley.

Ingall runs Pacific Riding for Developing Abilities, and said all the horses there are being ridden carefully.

“Some of our riders with disabilities, they have respiratory challenges themselves,” she noted.

Some horses have watery eyes since the smoke rolled in, she reported.

Fires in the Interior have caused a drop in air quality in Langley since Tuesday.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Health Index for Langley stood at five, according to Metro Vancouver’s air quality monitoring. On Tuesday it was between one and three for much of the day. Seven is condidered high, and 11 is very high.

Levels of fine particulate matter remained high through Wednesday and Thursday, hitting the highest measurable level on the scale by Thursday.

Metro Vancouver extended its Air Quality Advisory, and noted that concentrations of ground level ozone are also expected to reach advisory levels in parts of the Fraser Valley and eastern Metro communities.

Ground level ozone are created when nitrogen oxides – which result from burning of fuels – and volatile organic compounds react in the presence of sunlight.

With the air quality advisory in place, people are being asked to avoid strenuous outdoor activities, particularly in mid-afternoon to early evening when ozone levels are highest.

According to Metro Vancouver, ozone and fine particulate matter are of special concern for infants, the elderly, and those with conditions such as lung disease, heart disease, diabetes, and asthma.

The advisory is expected to continue until there is a change in the current weather.

The Lower Mainland is also in the middle of a heat wave, but the blanket of smoke is slightly reducing temperatures by reflecting sunlight, according to Environment Canada.

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mclaxton@langleyadvance.com

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The mountains were invisible from Redwoods Golf Course in Walnut Grove Tuesday due to smoke. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance)