Wildfires in British Columbia and Washington state have prompted an air quality advisory for Metro Vancouver, according to a press release from the Metro Vancouver district.
Smoke causes high concentrations of fine particulate matter in the area, which pose the greatest health risks, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency.
Local Canadian officials have asked residents to “postpone or reduce outdoor physical activity while PM 2.5 concentrations are high, especially if breathing feels uncomfortable.”
Fine particles, also known as PM 2.5, refer to solid or liquid droplets in the air with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or less, as explained in the press release. That’s 30 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair, according to the US EPA. PM 2.5 is easily absorbed due to its small size, the press release said.
The still weather is expected to last for at least the next few days, according to Vancouver officials, which means the air quality won’t change either.
“Smoke concentrations can vary widely across the region as winds and temperatures change and fire behavior changes,” said a Metro Vancouver press release.
There are currently nine active fires in Washington, according to a Friday update Northwest Interagency Coordination Center. That includes the Cedar Creek Fire, which is 40% contained. It has burned 122,794 hectares since it began on August 1, according to the Incident Information System.
There is also smoke from a fire at Cypress Mountain, a popular ski area in West Vancouver, “adding to the hazy conditions already experienced in Metro Vancouver,” the press release said.
Due to the warm and dry conditions, Metro Vancouver officials have also extended lawn watering restrictions from Saturday until October 31 to better conserve the region’s drinking water,” according to a Metro Vancouver water conservation advisory.