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UPDATE: Air advisory issued as smoke from Washington fires blankets Metro Vancouver

Metro Vancouver will continue to monitor our air quality conditions
Metro Vancouver shared this map of where the smoke from fires in Washington State and Oregon is visible. Photo: @MetroVancouver/Twitter

People who have underlying health conditions should limit the time they spend outdoors today, Metro Vancouver says.

On Tuesday afternoon, it issued an air quality advisory as a result of smoke that's blanketing the Lower Mainland.

The smoke is from fires in Washington State and Oregon.

"Persons with chronic underlying medical conditions or acute infections such as COVID-19 should postpone or reduce outdoor physical activity until the advisory is lifted, especially if breathing feels uncomfortable," the advisory says.

The concern is "high concentrations of fine particulate matter that are expected to persist through at least tonight. Smoke from wildfires burning in Washington, Oregon and California moved over our region this morning and is now impacting ground-level fine particulate matter concentrations.

"[Exposure] is particularly a concern for people with underlying conditions such as lung disease, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, and/or diabetes, individuals with respiratory infections such as COVID-19, pregnant women and infants, children, and older adults. Individuals who are socially marginalized may also be at elevated risk."

A day earlier, wildfires nearly destroyed the town of Malden, Washington, KOMO News reported. Malden is south of Spokane, approximately 670 km from Vancouver.

"We are calling this potentially historic with the intensity and magnitude of the winds that are expected,” KOMO News quoted Josh Clark, a fire meteorologist for the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, on Monday.

Information about real-time air quality readings for Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley communities and potential health impacts can be found here and here .

Metro Vancouver's air quality advisory says "indoor spaces with HEPA air cleaner filtration and air conditioning may offer relief from both heat and air pollution, but physical distancing guidelines for COVID-19 should still be observed. If you are experiencing symptoms such as chest discomfort, shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing, seek prompt medical attention. Call 9-1-1 in the case of an emergency."


Martha Perkins is the North Shore News’ Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

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