UPDATE January 22: Air quality advisory extended for Smithers, ended for Telkwa

Tuesday morning, the Ministry of Environment and the Northern Health Authority extended an Air Quality Advisory for Smithers.

Tuesday morning, the Ministry of Environment in collaboration with the Northern Health Authority extended an Air Quality Advisory for Smithers initially put in place Sunday, Jan. 20.

The advisory was issued because of high concentrations of fine particulates, especially PM25 particulates, in the air which are expected to persist until Wednesday.

PM25 levels in Smithers averaged 22.7 µg/m3 over the last 24 hours.

The air advisory for Telkwa was lifted as PM25 levels Tuesday morning fell to 1.3 µg/m3, down from 43.7 µg/m3 reported at 5 a.m.

The cause of the rise in PM25 particulates is likely a difference in surface temperatures and temperatures higher up in the atmosphere, air quality meteorologist, with the Ministry of Environment – Skeena Region, Benjamin Weinstein explained.

“Weather models are showing a stable air mass over the Bulkley Valley,” he said.

“Temperatures do appear to be inverted with warmer air above us, about five degrees warmer.

Weinstein said current weather conditions will continue with little atmospheric mixing at least through Wednesday.

The Ministry of Environment has prohibited the use of wood-burning stoves In Smithers unless unless they are the only source of heat.

Likewise for Telkwa, the Ministry of Environment continued its request that woodstoves not be used unless they are the sole source of heat in your home.

Northern Health advises persons with chronic underlying medical conditions to postpone strenuous exercise until the advisory is lifted.

Staying indoors and in air conditioned spaces helps to reduce fine particulate exposure.

Exposure is particularly a concern for infants, the elderly and those who have diabetes, and lung or heart disease.

For more information on current air quality, see: www.bcairquality.ca.