British Columbia wildfires: Smoky skies in western Canada

Leroy Wright
August 20, 2018

British Columbia has experienced some of the worst widespread air quality on the planet, and conditions look to worsen over the coming days.

Wildfire smoke has descended over Puget Sound, bringing air considered unhealthy for everyone. According to the Washington Smoke Information blog, there is "no significant smoke clearing expected before Wednesday for most of the state".

Meanwhile, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has issued an air pollution advisory for southern Oregon that remains in effect until further notice. The air quality level is expected to reach into unhealthy for sensitive groups. For comparison, Beijing and Mumbai - two cities renowned for typically poor air quality - scored 47 and 50 respectively.

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Environment Canada warned that some of the particulate matter is small enough to "easily penetrate indoors" and said infants and seniors were among the people most likely to feel respiratory symptoms. Children and the elderly should avoid outdoor physical activity altogether.

Officials say air quality over the area is poor because of smoke from wildfires and terrain that traps smoke in valleys.

Reduced visibility caused by the smoke and haze is making it hard for officials to detect new fires and for crews to fight existing wildfires from the air. A cold front has shifted wind direction and smoke from the British Columbia wildfires is now shifting stateside.

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