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Dust settles in Vernon as city tackles ongoing air quality concerns

Advisories tend to plague Vernon more than most cities in the spring
Road dust has settled for now in Vernon, as of Feb. 21, thanks to recent rainfall, following a six-day advisory. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

A six-day dust advisory has ended in Vernon, with the city gearing up to hopefully prevent future ongoing air quality concerns.

The Ministry of Environment in collaboration with the Interior Health Authority ended the dust advisory Tuesday, Feb. 21. The advisory was issued on Feb. 15 for Vernon due to elevated concentrations of dust.

Rainfall Monday helped the dust settle and improve air quality conditions across the region.

Meanwhile the City of Vernon is aware of the dust concerns that seem to plague the region and is doing what it can to prevent advisories.

“The city has made a number of changes in recent years to reduce the amount of airborne particulate in the community,” said Christy Poirier, Vernon’s communications manager. “This includes changes to our winter sand to reduce fine particulate matter, proceeding with early spring sweeping opportunities (sweepers were out in January this year), and the recent purchase of a vacuum-style street sweeper to reduce dust.”

But because water is required for the operation of street sweepers, they can only be used when temperatures are above freezing.

“Full scale spring sweeping operation will commence once weather permits (typically in March) and will take approximately six weeks to complete using a combination of city and contract crews working around the clock,” Poirier said.

“City administration has also been working closely with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy to improve the air quality monitoring in our community so we can gain a better understanding of the issue.”

The latest advisory is the first of the year, sparked by particulate matter levels of 60.3.

The provincial air quality objective for PM10 is 50 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3), averaged over 24 hours.

By Friday, levels in Vernon rose to 65.7. Meanwhile neighbouring Kelowna levels were at 23.8.

READ MORE: Vernon dust advisory continued for third day in a row

READ MORE: Vernon dust factor nearly five times that of Kelowna


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Jennifer Smith

About the Author: Jennifer Smith

20-year-Morning Star veteran
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