Every year, fire season in BC seems to be getting longer and more extreme, causing some of the worst air quality in British Columbia, and causing health problems for those with and without chronic lung disease.
Wildfire smoke is a complex mixture of different air pollutants, including fine particulate matter (PM2.5), carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, and trace amounts of heavy metals. The mixture can change depending on the fuels (types of trees, brush, grasses, or building materials) and the atmospheric conditions. Although wildfire smoke is generated outdoors, it can travel indoors through windows, doors, vents, and other openings.
COVID-19 and Wildfire Smoke
Exposure to air pollution can irritate the lungs, cause inflammation, and alter immune function, making it more difficult to fight respiratory infections such as COVID-19. When conditions are smoky, more people who are exposed to the novel coronavirus may develop COVID-19 and some cases of COVID-19 may become more severe. Follow the link below to learn more.
More Wildfire Resources:
- Check for air quality advisories at the BC Goverment's page for air quality advisories and Smoky Skies Bulletins, which is updated at least once every 24 hours when fires are actively burning.
- The Air Quality and Health Index (AQHI) maps for all of BC or for Metro Vancouver provide health-specific messaging for smoky conditions.
- If you live somewhere without an AQHI reading, check the current map of fine particulate matter concentrations or PM2.5.
- The FireWork Smoke Forecast shows predicted ground-level PM2.5 impacts over the next 48 hours.
- The BC Wildfire Serivce map of active wildfires can help you keep track here fires are burning, especially during hot and windy weather when fires can start and spread rapidly.
- Extreme wildfires often occur when it is very hot outside, which can also affect your health. Sign up for EC Alert Me through Environment Canada to receive email warnings from the national weather office about extreme temperatures and other important weather events.
- Install the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) Canada app for notifications when air quality changes on your Android or on your iOS device.
- Portable air cleaners certified in the State of California are subject to higher standards than those sold elsewhere. All units on the list certified by the California Air Resources Board are also tested for electrical safety and low ozone emissions, and some may be available for purchase in Canada.