UPDATE: A special air quality alert remains in effect for the North Okanagan.
Elevated pollution levels continue, therefore the dust advisory issued Sunday is still in place.
The Ministry of Environment is encouraging North Okanagan residents to take extra precautions while outdoors due to a dust advisory.
In collaboration with the Interior Health Authority and Climate Change Strategy, the ministry issued an air quality statement in Vernon due to high concentrations of coarse particulates, which are expected to persist until there is a change in weather conditions.
“Persons with chronic underlying medical conditions should postpone strenuous exercise until the advisory is lifted,” Environment Canada stated in a release. “Staying indoors and in air-conditioned spaces helps to reduce particulate exposure. Exposure is particularly a concern for infants, the elderly and those who have diabetes, and lung or heart disease.”
Tips to reduce your personal health risk:
• Avoid roads with heavy vehicle traffic.
• 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.
Additional tips 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 that have large indoor volumes and limited entry of outdoor air.
• The current advisory has been triggered by high concentrations of dust, measured as “PM10” – particles with diameter up to 10 millionth of a metre.
• PM10 concentrations are currently above advisory levels. Latest measurements at the Vernon Science Centre station indicate an hourly average of 68 micrograms per cubic metre. The average for the past 24 hours is 97 micrograms per cubic metre, which exceeds the provincial air quality objective of 50 micrograms per cubic metre.
• The current dusty conditions are mainly caused by road traffic stirring up winter traction materials that have accumulated on roadways over the winter months. Dry meteorological conditions have contributed to accumulation of dust in the Airshed.