The Ministry of Environment and Interior Health has issued an air quality advisory for Williams Lake because of high concentrations of fine particulates and ozone that are expected to persist until Tuesday.
Persons with chronic underlying medical conditions should postpone strenuous exercise until the advisory is lifted. Staying indoors and in air conditioned spaces helps to reduce fine particulate and ozone exposure. Exposure is particularly a concern for infants, the elderly and those who have diabetes, and lung or heart disease.
Fine particulate (PM2.5) concentrations are currently 33 micrograms per cubic metre and exceed the provincial air quality objective of 25 micrograms per cubic metre, averaged over 24 hours, a joint news release from the ministry and Interior Health says.
The hourly ozone concentration was 32 ppb yesterday morning and was expected to exceed the air quality objective of 82 ppb in the afternoon.
Ozone is a highly reactive pollutant that is formed in the atmosphere from reactions involving other pollutant gases in the presence of sunlight.
Current meteorological conditions, emissions from various sources including, industry and transportation sources, and long-range pollutant transport are likely contributing to this air quality episode.
This episode is expected to continue until there is a change in the current weather system.
Real-time air quality information from Williams Lake and other B.C. communities can be found at: www.bcairquality.ca.
The ministry and Interior Health say tips to reduce your personal health risk include:
• Avoiding roads with heavy vehicle traffic and areas with wood smoke.
• Staying cool and drink plenty of water.
• Continuing to control medical conditions such as asthma, chronic respiratory disease and heart failure. If symptoms continue to be bothersome, seek medical attention.
• Maintaining good overall health is a good way to reduce health risks resulting from short-term exposure to air pollution.
Additional tips for those with chronic underlying medical conditions:
• Stay indoors, especially during midday when levels of ozone are at their highest, and reduce indoor pollution sources such as smoking and vacuuming.
• Run an air cleaner. Some room air cleaners, such as HEPA filters, can help reduce indoor particulate levels provided they are the right size for your home and filters are changed regularly.
• Take shelter in air-conditioned buildings which have large indoor volumes and limited entry of outdoor air.
The ministry adds that people can do their part to improve air quality by voluntarily reducing emissions, such as reducing the use and idling of vehicles.