Smoky skies for Smithers. (Josh Casey photo)

Smoky skies for Smithers. (Josh Casey photo)

Environment Canada issues special air quality statement for Bulkley Valley

The smoke is causing poor air quality and reducing visibility.

An air quality statement for the Bulkley Valley has been issued due to the smoke from the wildfires.

Environment Canada issued the statement Wednesday afternoon for the Bulkley Valley and The Lakes northwest areas including Smithers.

The smoke is causing poor air quality and reducing visibility.

The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, in collaboration with the Interior and Northern Health Authorities has continued the Smoky Skies Bulletin due to smoke conditions.

Areas covered by the advisory include: 100 Mile, Arrow Lakes, Boundary, Bulkley Valley and The Lakes Northwest (including Smithers), Bulkley Valley and The Lakes Southeast (including Burns Lake), Cariboo North, Cariboo South, Chilcotin, East Columbia, East Kootenay, Elk Valley, Fraser Canyon, Kinbasket, Kootenay Lake, Kootenay Park, Nicola, North Coast – Coastal, North Coast – Inland, North Columbia, North Thompson, Okanagan, Prince George, Shuswap, Similkameen, Slocan Lake, South Thompson, West Columbia, West Kootenay, Williston, Yellowhead, and Yoho Park.

Smoke concentrations will vary widely as winds, fire behaviour and temperatures change.

Environment Canada suggests avoiding strenuous outdoor activities and if you experience any of the following symptoms, contact your doctor: difficulty in breathing, chest pain or discomfort, and sudden onset of cough or irritation of airways. Exposure is particularly a concern for infants, the elderly and those who have underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, and lung or heart disease.

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.

People with lung diseases, such as asthma and COPD, can be particularly sensitive to air pollution. They will generally experience more serious health effects at lower levels. Pollution can aggravate their diseases, leading to increased medication use, doctor and emergency room visits, and hospital visits.

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.

The special air quality statement will remain in effect until further notice.

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.