Smoke polluting Okanagan Valley air, quality statement issued

Frederick Owens
August 15, 2018

Residents in Vanderhoof in central B.C. reported thick smoke and black ash falling on Monday night due to fires including a 315-square-kilometre blaze west of the municipality, said fire information officer Ryan Turcot.

Hundreds of troops also pitched in last summer during the worst wildfire season on record in the province.

If the air quality isn't too bad and you absolutely must go on that hike or bike commute, try wearing a mask.

You can also take a look at the current air quality index, calculated by the DEQ and the Oregon Health Authority.

The Washington Smoke Information blog - a coordinated effort by county, state and federal officials to share information on smoke from wildland fires - lists Vancouver's air quality Tuesday morning as unhealthy for sensitive groups. In Spokane, officials say air quality could reach the unhealthy range Tuesday and Wednesday.

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The low air quality is most likely to have adverse health effects on the elderly, the young and those with chronic heart and lung conditions.

A value of 50 or below represents good air quality with little potential to affect even those with respiratory conditions, while a value over 300 represents hazardous air quality and is likely to affect even healthy individuals. Use an indoor air filter if available. If you use the car's fan or air conditioning, make sure the system recirculates air from inside the vehicle; don't pull air from outside.

Check the air quality forecast regularly at the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency's website. But they're moving some of their programs indoors, if possible, and will post updates on Portland's Inclement Weather web page. These masks are usually available at hardware and home fix stores.

Air quality conditions may change quickly.

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