Smithers air quality readings from St. Joseph’s School. (BC Air Quality)

Smithers air quality readings from St. Joseph’s School. (BC Air Quality)

Air quality statement for Bulkley Valley and Lakes

Statement is not advisory level but warns conditions change quickly, with smoke coming from Eurasia.

A special air quality statement went into effect Tuesday evening for Bulkley Valley and the Lakes District, including Smithers and Burns Lake. The Province is calling it a smoky skies bulletin.

This is not an advisory and the latest air quality data from the St. Joseph’s School monitor is still at a low health risk level as of Wednesday afternoon.

There are no fires of note on the BC Wildfire map as of Wednesday, though conditions in the southern part of the province are extreme in some areas. The Wilfire Service says hot and dry conditions are forecast for the Northwest Fire Centre this week, and could lead to an increase in fire activity and the amount of smoke that is visible. The Northwest Fire Centre is currently experiencing elevated fire danger ratings, with high ratings in most areas and some pockets of extreme. The Wildfire Service urges people to remain vigilant in the backcountry and be extremely careful with any recreational activity that could potentially spark a wildfire.

The Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako’s Bulkley Valley emergency information (BVEI) said Wednesday smoke in the northern half of the province can be attributed to an upper low that has pulled smoke into B.C. from the fires currently burning in Manitoba and Ontario.

The Province updated its bulletin Wednesday afternoon to say most of the smoke in northern B.C. is from Europe and Asia.

There are also no fire bans as of Tuesday evening in the Northwest fire zone.

The statement issued by Environment Canada and the B.C. Ministry of Environment Tuesday, July 24 at 8 p.m. reads as follows:

During a wildfire, smoke conditions can change quickly over short distances and can vary considerably hour-by-hour.

Wildfire smoke is a natural part of our environment but it is important to be mindful that exposure to smoke may affect your health.

People with pre-existing health conditions, the elderly, infants, children and sensitive individuals are more likely to experience health effects

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.

Be air aware! Check your local weather forecasts and alerts so you know when to take extra care.

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.

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