View looking east toward Mt. Cheam from Gibson Road on Tuesday, July 6, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

View looking east toward Mt. Cheam from Gibson Road on Tuesday, July 6, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Wildfire smoke starting to drift across Fraser Valley and Lower Mainland

With more than 200 wildfires reported across B.C. the smoke is travelling into the region

With the 2021 wildfire season starting earlier than ever, wildfire smoke is starting to drift into the Fraser Valley and across the Lower Mainland.

More than 200 wildfires were reported across B.C. and Washington State, so the smoke is expected to travel widely across the region.

Metro Vancouver’s AirMap recorded ‘low’ levels of the pollutants known as small particulates (PM2.5) on Monday and Tuesday, but there was a noticeable a haze in the air as a ‘smoky skies bulletin’ was issued July 5 for parts of southern B.C. and the B.C. Interior.

‘Moderate’ levels of air quality pollutants are forecast for Wednesday, but sometimes air quality health index (AQHI) readings take a few days to catch up to drifting smoke.

Little Mountain is seen in this view of Chilliwack, looking northwest from Gibson Road on Tuesday, July 6, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Little Mountain is seen in this view of Chilliwack, looking northwest from Gibson Road on Tuesday, July 6, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

“Transported wildfire smoke can sometimes be trapped in upper layers of the air, causing visual impacts despite air quality measurements on the ground remaining good,” according to FVRD’s wildfire smoke info.

Since smoke can be harmful for anyone with existing respiratory illness or other chronic conditions as well as pregnant women, infants, young children and the elderly, who more vulnerable it makes sense to keep an eye out for advisories and warnings.

The risks are mapped out on the BC Centre for Disease Control’s Health Effects factsheet found on the FVRD’s wildfire smoke FAQs. Check the Air Quality Health Index Data Map for current and forecasted air quality in your area.

Monitor smoke forecast maps like BlueSky.

Anyone experiencing symptoms from a community “blanketed” by wildfire smoke, is asked to consult their health care providers.

A view of Mt. Cheam looking east from Prest Road on Tuesday, July 6, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

A view of Mt. Cheam looking east from Prest Road on Tuesday, July 6, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

A view of Mt. Cheam looking east from Prest Road on Tuesday, July 6, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

A view of Mt. Cheam looking east from Prest Road on Tuesday, July 6, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

A smoky skies bulletin issued by BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy is a wildfire smoke notice issued for an identified zone or zones rather than a community-specific air quality advisory. It provides information about areas potentially impacted due to the highly variable nature of wildfire smoke. The bulletin zones are based on Environment and Climate Change Canada weather forecast zones.

‘Air quality advisories’ are issued by Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley Regional District rather than ‘smoky skies bulletins,‘ which are issued across the rest of the province.

For more information about air quality during wildfire smoke events:

• Metro Vancouver: aqinfo@metrovancouver.org or 604-432-6200

• Fraser Valley Regional District: environment@fvrd.ca or 604-702-5000

• BC Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy: AQReporting@gov.bc.ca or contact the air quality meteorologist identified on the smoky skies bulletin

• Environment and Climate Change Canada: 1-900-565-5555 (now toll free)

RELATED: Prepare for the worst AQ

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
jfeinberg@theprogress.com


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air quality