A car covered in dust sits on a Rutland street in Kelowna. - Carli Berry/Capital News

Okanagan air quality levels worse than Jodhpur, India

Kelowna - Avoid strenuous exercise outside today

Jenifer Calhoun watched as ash settled on her patio furniture and in her children’s sandbox.

Calhoun and two of her three children have asthma, which is keeping them indoors.

“It’s disgusting, it is way worse than last year,” she said. “Of course, all of our inhalers are used now.”

The family has been avoiding the outdoors.

“There’s been days where you can actually see wisps of smoke in the backyard, like right around face level. I don’t remember seeing that last year. It was actually way up high, and it went away after a week. This is like it’s settled in and it’s not going away,” Calhoun said.

“Little Hailey, she’s been coughing, sputtering tons,” she said. Hailey is four years old.

Calhoun has a cough that won’t go away, and she makes short trips to the grocery store.

A thick blanket of smoke continues to cover the Okanagan.

In terms of air quality measurements, air quality is measured by particulate matter 2.5, called PM2.5, which is the amount of tiny particles or droplets in the air, according to New York State’s Department of Health.

Kelowna currently has worse air than Jodhpur, India, a city which is considered by the World Health Organization to have some of the worst air in the world. Kelowna sits at 287 PM 2.5 as of 8:3o a.m. while Jodhpur is 183 2.5 PM. The scale ranges from 1 to 500+. Anything above 100 PM 2.5 is considered to carry a health risk.

Currently, Prince George has a reading of 402. To compare, Courtenay has no smoke on Vancouver Island and has a rating of 10. Surrey had a reading of 53.

According to Environment Canada’s Air Quality Index, all of the Okanagan Valley is sitting at 10+ out of 10, which is considered a very high risk.

Related: B.C. city wakes up to darkness under wildfire smoke

Related: Temporary smoke relief in sight for Kelowna

The national forecaster recommends avoiding strenuous outdoor activities, and children and the elderly should avoid outside physical exertion.

As of Saturday morning, Kelowna and Vernon’s air quality was considered hazardous, while Coldstream’s was considered unhealthy, according to a real-time air quality tracker.

Sunday’s predictions for the Okanagan is expected to reach a level of eight.


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