Showing posts from April, 2019

Gabriola Island currently has the worst air quality in North America

Thank in large part to people who burn yard waste, and still operate their wood stoves in late April, Gabriola Island currently has the worst air quality in North America. The 232 micrograms/m3 reading on the map is our island. This level of PM2.5 is almost ten times the provincial maximum based on a 24 hours average.

Do N95 masks work to protect you and your family from wildfire smoke?

Dr. Michael Mehta of TRU wearing a Vogmask . Yes, I've heard the jokes about Darth Vader and Silence of the Lambs. Over the past two years people in many parts of British Columbia have been exposed to unusually high levels of particulate pollution from wildfires. The messaging from the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC), and public health officials from Interior Health and other publicly funded health care providers, has been mixed and noticeably negative about the benefits of wearing N95 respirator masks as a risk reduction measure. In a recent article by Ashley Legassic of CFJC Today, she quoted Interior Health Medical Health Officer Dr. Kamran Golmohammadi as follows:  "They require fitting," he says. "In other words, it  has to be tight on the face. So people with facial  hair, small children and people who cannot fit  (the mask) properly... will not benefit from these  masks and there are alternative ways and more  effective ways of pro

A reminder of how good our Purple Air network truly is

With air quality changing rapidly, and awareness of the risks from air pollution increasing daily, here's a handy reminder of how good the Purple Air network truly is. In Kamloops, British Columbia, the provincial government has only one air monitoring station for the entire region. It is located downtown on West Victoria Street, and incidentally away from some of the largest industrial polluters. A Purple Air sensor happens to be co-located near this provincial air monitoring station, and it is within 200m of it and at a similar elevation from the ground. Here's what the provincial readings look like recently for PM2.5 levels. And here is a graph from the co-located Purple Air sensor. If you focus on the graphs between April 4-10 (the Purple Air graphing package only shows one week at a time), you'll see that the pattern is virtually identical and readings are extremely close.

Visualizing and interpreting PM2.5 levels from wood smoke

As many of you likely know, there have been several small wildfires recently in B.C.. With a strong El Nino oscillation this year, we predict that this Summer may be worse than what we’ve experienced to-date in terms of air pollution. It’s sometimes difficult to make sense of the numbers and metrics used to explain air pollution. We came across the following website that helps show visually the differences between these levels, and are attaching some screenshots from this  website .  With respect to PM2.5 sized particles, the World Health Organization is recommending an annual average of 10 micrograms/cubic metre or lower. Below is a representation of this level. The Provin ce of British Columbia has a target (not even a regulation) of 25 micrograms/cubic metre for a 24 hour period.  At points during the Summers of 2017 and 2018, we had daily averages exceeding 500 micrograms/cubic metre in the interior and north of the province. What’s clear from the s