Smog, smoke prompt Spare the Air alert for Sunday

Lynette PayneAug 22, 2018

Changes in wind direction have brought over more smoke to the area from wildfires around northern and central Washington, as well as from British Columbia.

Sarah Henderson of the B.C. Centre for Disease Control said children's lungs don't fully develop until about age 10 and are therefore more sensitive so it's best for them to stay indoors when air quality is poor.

Massive clouds of choking smoke from the wildfires has prompted air quality advisories for much of Western Canada and also forced the cancellations of two triathlons in B.C.'s Okanagan region on Sunday.

Elsewhere in areas of Washington state, Idaho and OR, the air quality has been ranked as "very unhealthy", with Seattle reaching 249.

While Metro Vancouver's air quality saw a brief reprieve on Friday, August 17th, the smoky haze returned the day after. When the air quality is unhealthy, people with these conditions may experience symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, or fatigue. As seen on the images below, the index for Vancouver has unhealthy levels in nearly all areas.

The MPCA said the air quality will improve overnight and smoke is expected to be completely gone from the state by Tuesday morning.

The Minnesota Department of Health said in a 2015 report that air pollution like that from wildfires - specifically, small particulates - contributed to more than 2,000 deaths and 600 emergency room visits in 2008 alone.

On Monday, a monitoring station in the city of Spokane near the border hit 382 out of 500 on the Air Quality Index, which is ranked as hazardous.

A wider air quality warning is forecast to remain in effect through at least noon Tuesday.

Isolated storms and a shift in the winds this evening into tomorrow may offer some temporary relief of smoke in some areas.

About 550 fires are burning in British Columbia, the Associated Press reported.

What's more, Metro Vancouver's health risk is as high as parts of the Okanagan.

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