Canadian Lung Association Blog

Pollution levels – How does BC measure up?

Summer wildfires and periods of stagnant meteorological conditions during the fall and winter of 2014 resulted in intermittently high levels of fine particulates (PM2.5) for a number of communities. In 2014, the area of forests burned – almost 360,000 hectares – was the third highest in provincial history. Several large fires occurred in the northeast, in the vicinity of Williston Lake, Chetwynd, Tumbler Ridge and Quesnel. These and other smaller fires produced huge amounts of smoke that affected air quality levels, especially PM2.5 concentrations, in several B.C. communities.

air pollutionDuring parts of July and August, several areas of the province were under an air quality advisory due to wildfire smoke. Affected areas stretched from northeast B.C. southwards, and included Fort St. John, Houston, Prince George, Quesnel, Williams Lake, the Thompson/Okanagan/Shuswap regions and the Lower Fraser Valley.

In November and December of 2014, intermittent high pressure systems brought stable conditions and light to calm winds that led to a deterioration of local air quality. During these periods, air quality  advisories due to PM2.5 were issued for several communities on Vancouver Island (Comox Valley, Cowichan Valley and Port Alberni), the Highway 16 corridor (Smithers, Houston, Vanderhoof, Prince George), and also for Williams Lake, Kamloops, Grand Forks and Kitimat. Data from all available monitoring sites are summarized in the Technical Appendix.

For data and information about fine particulate matter, ground-level ozone, nitrogen dioxide, and sulphur dioxide, click here.


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Carlynn Ferguson-King

Carlynn is on the BC Lung Association Communications Team.

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Posted in Air Quality
One comment on “Pollution levels – How does BC measure up?
  1. Bill Lewin says:

    I see this statement has yet to be changed ” Another important finding from the 2014 season was that smoke early in the summer seemed to have a larger public health impact than smoke later in the
    summer, possibly suggesting that populations build
    resiliency as the season goes by”

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