The road dust in the air in Vernon has only gotten worse in continued dry weather Thursday, March 18.
An air quality advisory has been continued by The Ministry of Environment and Interior Health due to high concentrations of particulate matter (PM10).
The province’s PM10 objective is 50 micrograms per cubic metre, averaged over 24 hours. Vernon sits at 110.3 as of 9 a.m. That’s up from a PM10 of 72.3 yesterday, when the advisory was most recently renewed.
Kelowna’s current air quality is comparatively much cleaner, at 28 PM10.
The City of Vernon has been working to address what has become an annual issue in the early weeks of spring. The city has switched to a new type of winter traction grit that’s supposed to result in less dust, and will be adding six new air quality sensors to better track PM10 concentrations, according to a March 8 update from the city’s road manager.
A high PM10 can more adversely affect people with asthma, heart disease and other medical conditions.
The advisory will remain in effect until rain or dust suppression efforts improve local air quality.
For real-time air quality observations and information regarding the health effects of air pollution, go here.
To reduce your personal health risk, the ministry offers the following suggestions:
- Avoid roads with heavy vehicle traffic.
- Use common sense regarding outdoor physical activity; if your breathing becomes difficult or uncomfortable, stop or reduce the activity.
- People with heart or respiratory conditions (including COVID-19) should watch for any change in symptoms that may be due to poor air quality exposure. If any symptoms are noted, affected individuals should take steps to reduce their exposure to poor air quality. If symptoms continue to be bothersome, seek medical attention.
- Keep windows and doors closed, and reduce indoor sources of pollution such as smoking, vacuuming and use of wood stoves. When indoors, ensure physical distancing guidelines Page 1 of 2 for COVID-19 are observed.
- 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.