UPDATED SATURDAY 11:00 AM: Current PM2.5 levels have returned to the FAIR category. Advisory and voluntary burn ban have been cancelled.
The Ministry of Environment in collaboration with the Interior Health Authority has issued an air quality advisory for Grand Forks because of high concentrations of fine particulates which are expected to persist until Saturday.
“The running 24 hour PM 2.5 average has exceeded 38 ug/m3,” explained Paul Willis, air quality meteorologist with the Ministry of Environment. “Last hour, the level was 26 ug/m3. We will likely see another spike tonight. Inversion will persist until Saturday, though there is chance we will see the inversion breakup tomorrow afternoon.”
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 exposure. Exposure is particularly a concern for infants, the elderly and those who have diabetes, and lung or heart disease
A voluntary burn ban is in effect for all outdoor burning within a 20 kilometre radius from downtown Grand Forks until further notice.
Particulate matter (PM) is measured in Grand Forks by systems monitored by the Ministry of Environment to track air quality. The quantity is measured in micrograms or ug per cubed meter (m3).
Tips to reduce your personal health risk:
- Avoid roads with heavy vehicle traffic and areas with wood smoke;
- Stay cool and drink plenty of water (delete if not applicable);
- Continue 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.
And especially for persons with chronic underlying medical conditions:
- Stay indoors, keep windows and doors closed and reduce indoor sources of pollution such as smoking, vacuuming and use of wood stoves.
- 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.
- Avoid the use of wood-burning stoves and fireplaces unless used as the sole source of residential heat;
- Where wood-stoves or fireplaces are the sole source of residential heat, use only CSA/EPA emissions approved wood-burning appliances and well-cured wood, and ensure an adequate supply of combustion air;
- Follow local backyard burning bylaws, and avoid backyard burning where a bylaw prohibiting this practice does not already exist;
- Reduce the use and idling of vehicles;
- Do not ignite or add fuel to all category 2 and 3 piles within a 20 kilometre radius of Grand Forks through the duration of this advisory.
- The most recent recorded fine particulate (PM2.5) hourly concentration is 26.4 micrograms per cubic metre and exceed or are expected to exceed the provincial air quality objective of 25 micrograms per cubic metre, averaged over 24 hours;
- Sources of fine particulates contributing to this air quality episode include wood smoke (wood stoves and/or open burning) as well as emissions from industry and transportation sources such as automobiles, trucks and rail traffic;
- The provincial air quality objective for coarse particles, PM2.5, is 25 micrograms per cubic metre, averaged over 24 hours. 24-Hour average PM2.5 concentrations are summarized below for communities in Kootenay Region and are current as of 12:00 p.m., November 10;
- This episode is expected to continue until there is a change in the current weather system
- Real-time air quality information from Grand Forks and other B.C. communities can be found at: www.bcairquality.ca or click on the Sentinel’s air quality link on the left side of the home page under the weather link.