The air quality in Williams Lake is rated as high risk Thursday morning, March 10. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

The air quality in Williams Lake is rated as high risk Thursday morning, March 10. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

UPDATE: Special air quality statement in effect for Williams Lake

Any at-risk population should reduce or reschedule strenuous activities outdoors

Update:

Environment Canada issued a special air quality statement for several part of the province, including one issued for Williams Lake, at 9:36 a.m. Thursday, March 10.

An air quality advisory as well as an open burning restriction are in effect for Williams Lake as a thick smoke hangs over the city Thursday morning.

“The Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy in collaboration with the Interior Health Authority has issued an Air Quality Advisory for Williams Lake due to high concentrations of fine particulate matter that are expected to persist until weather conditions change,” states the notice.

“Fine particulate matter, PM2.5, refers to airborne solid or liquid droplets with diameters of 2.5 micrometres (um) or less. PM2.5 levels tend to be highest around busy roads, industrial operations and neighbourhoods with residential wood burning. PM2.5 can easily penetrate indoors because of their small size. Sources of PM2.5 contributing to this air quality episode include emissions from wood smoke (woodstoves) as well as emissions from industry and transportation sources such as automobiles, trucks and rail traffic.”

Air quality statements have also been issued for the Bulkey Valley and Lakes District, the Cariboo, East Columbia, the Okanagan Valley and Stuart-Nechako region

Exposure to fine particulate matter is particularly a concern for individuals with chronic conditions such as asthma, COPD, heart disease, and diabetes; respiratory infections such as COVID-19, pregnant women, infants, and older adults, notes the special air quality statement, further warning persons with chronic underlying medical conditions or acute infections should postpone or reduce strenuous exercise until the advisory is lifted.

Open burning restrictions are now in effect for Williams Lake and surrounding area until March 11 at 9 a.m. No new fires may be initiated and no additional material maybe added to existing fires. For more information on burning restrictions, see the section below entitled Mandatory Emission Reduction Actions.

Original:

Williams Lake area residents are waking up to very poor air quality Thursday morning, March 10, with visibly smoky skies over the city.

According to the Air Quality Health Index, the rating at 7:30 a.m. is at nine, which is considered high risk.

Any at-risk population should reduce or reschedule strenuous activities outdoors. Children and the elderly should also take it easy.

The general population should consider reducing or rescheduling strenuous activities outdoors if experiencing symptoms such as coughing and throat irritation.

People with heart and lung conditions are most affected by air pollution.

The air quality in Williams Lake is expected to improve throughout the day and evening, but is forecasted to be poor again Friday.

Slash burns in the area are believed to be a contributing factor to the poor air quality.

Hourly air quality for particulate matter ratings can be accessed through a University of Northern B.C. website with information about Williams Lake.

More to come


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The air quality in Williams Lake is rated as high risk Thursday morning, March 10. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)

The air quality in Williams Lake is rated as high risk Thursday morning, March 10. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)