Air quality has taken a dip in the valley

Air Quality Health Index rating reaches 7/10 in Okanagan cities

Smoke from B.C.’s numerous wild fires has wafted south and made the air soupy.

Both Vernon and Kelowna’s air quality stations are reporting an Air Quality Health Index rating of 7 out of 10. It was even worse in Kamloops this morning, with the health index being listed at a 9/10. The only exception for the time being is the South Okanagan, which has a rating of 3.

The high rating means the province has deemed the health risk to be high and even the general population is to avoid strenuous activities outdoors. Children and the elderly should also take it easy.

“Consider reducing or rescheduling strenuous activities outdoors if you experience symptoms such as coughing and throat irritation,” reads the provincial report.

At risk populations should reduce or reschedule strenuous activities outdoors and children and the elderly should also take it easy.

The Ministry of Environment, in collaboration with the Interior Health Authority, had already forewarned of the conditions at hand, issuing a Smoky Skies Advisory for the Cariboo, Thompson, Shuswap, Okanagan, Similkameen, Fraser Canyon and Nicola regions on the weekend.

That advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

Individuals may experience symptoms such as increased coughing, throat irritation, headaches or shortness of breath. Children, seniors, and those with cardiovascular or lung disease, such as asthma, are especially at risk.

Stay inside if you have breathing difficulties. Find an indoor place that’s cool and ventilated. Using an air conditioner that cools and filters air may help. If you open the windows you may let in more polluted air. If your home isn’t air-conditioned, consider going to a public place (library, shopping mall, recreation centre) that is air-conditioned.

Weather is expected to keep fires stoked this week, so for more information on current air quality, see: www.bcairquality.ca.

Visit www.airhealth.ca for information on how to reduce your health risk and your personal contribution to pollution levels, as well as for current and forecast AQHI values.

Please continue to monitor alerts and forecasts issued by Environment Canada.

Issued by Environment Canada and the B.C. Ministry of Environment