Nearly double the amount of road dust in the air in Vernon compared to Kelowna has extended an air quality advisory for the area.
The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy in collaboration with Interior Health has continued the dust advisory issued for Vernon on March 19.
Testing from Monday, March 23 at 1 p.m. show Vernon has 53 micrograms per cubic metre averaged over 24 hours. Kelowna has 27.4. The provincial air quality objective for particulate matter is 50.
“High concentrations of coarse particulate matter are expected to persist until there is precipitation or dust suppression,” said Graham Veale, air quality meteorologist Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.
Levels tend to be highest around busy roads and industrial operations. This advisory is in effect until further notice.
Persons with chronic underlying medical conditions should postpone strenuous exercise near busy roads until the advisory is lifted. Exposure is particularly a concern for infants, the elderly and those who have diabetes, and lung or heart disease.
Real-time air quality observations and information regarding the health effects of air pollution can be found at https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/air-land-water/air.
Coarse particulate matter refers to airborne solid or liquid droplets with diameters between 2.5 and 10 micrometers (μm). Together with fine particulate matter (airborne solid or liquid droplets with diameters of 2.5 μm or less), these particles are referred to as PM10. Sources of PM10 contributing to this air quality episode include road dust from the emission of winter traction material along busy and dry road surfaces. PM10 can easily penetrate indoors because of their small size.
Tips to reduce your personal health risk:
• Avoid roads with heavy vehicle traffic.
• Continue to manage medical conditions such as asthma, chronic respiratory disease and heart failure. If symptoms continue to be bothersome, seek medical attention.
• Use common sense regarding outdoor physical activity; if your breathing becomes difficult or uncomfortable, stop or reduce the activity.
• People with heart or lung conditions may be more sensitive to the effects of poor air quality and should watch for any change in symptoms that may be due to poor air quality exposure. Continue to control medical conditions such as asthma, hay fever, and chronic respiratory disease. If symptoms continue to be bothersome, seek medical attention.
• Keep windows and doors closed, and reduce indoor sources of pollution such as smoking and vacuuming.
• Run an air cleaner. Some room air cleaners, such as HEPA filters, can help reduce indoor concentrations of particulate matter provided the filters are the right size for your home and are kept clean.
• Buildings which have large indoor volumes of filtered outside air may provide temporary relief for those with respiratory and cardiac issues.
• Maintaining good overall health is a good way to reduce health risks resulting from short- term exposure to air pollution.
This air quality episode is caused by high levels of road dust, measured as PM10. Road dust is emitted into the air when traffic volumes are high and winter traction material is present on dry road surfaces.