High levels of dust due to winter traction material on dry road surfaces prompted an advisory in Vernon Feb. 3. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

UPDATE: Dust advisory clears up in North Okanagan

Provincial air quality objective for PM10, is 50 micrograms per cubic metre: Vernon is 54.8, whereas Kelowna is 21.6

UPDATE TUESDAY FEB. 4:

A road dust advisory has settled in Vernon.

The Ministry of Environment in collaboration with the Interior Health Authority has ended the advisory that was issued Monday, Feb. 3 due to elevated concentrations of dust.

“Changing meteorological conditions have improved conditions across the region,” the ministry states in a release.

The provincial air quality objective for PM10, is 50 micrograms per cubic metre (μg/m3), averaged over 24 hours. As of noon Feb. 4, the concentration was 54.8 in Vernon (compared to 74.5 Feb. 3) and 21.6 in Kelowna (compared to 18.8 Feb. 3).

“The hourly average values of PM10 in Vernon are significantly lower due to recent precipitation and the air quality continues to improve.”

…………………………………………………….

B.C’s Environment Ministry has issued a dust advisory for Vernon.

The ministry, in collaboration with Interior Health, issued the advisory because of what it calls “high concentrations of coarse particulate matter,” on local roads, and the situation is expected to persist until there is rain, snow or some other form of dust suppression.

The dust levels tend to be highest around busy roads and industrial operations and the advisory will stay in effect until further notice.

Vernon is often plagued with dust advisories in the spring and this one, the first in 2020, came a few days later than the first one issued in 2019. That advisory was issued on Jan. 29.

According to the ministry and IH, the provincial air quality objective is 50 micrograms of dust per cubic metre averaged over 24 hours. Concentrations as of Feb. 3 at 8 a.m. showed Vernon at 74.5, compared to Kelowna at 18.8.

READ MORE: Dust advisory issued for Vernon

Coarse particulate matter refers to airborne solid or liquid droplets with diameters between 2.5 and 10 micrometers (μm). Together with fine particulate matter (airborne solid or liquid droplets with diameters of 2.5 μm or less), these particles are referred to as PM10. Sources of PM10 contributing to this air quality episode include road dust from the emission of winter traction material along busy and dry road surfaces. PM10 can easily penetrate indoors because of their small size.

Anyone with chronic underlying medical conditions is advised to postpone strenuous exercise near busy roads until the advisory is lifted.

Exposure is a particular concern for infants, the elderly and those who have diabetes and lung or heart disease.

Tips to reduce your personal health risk:

• Avoid roads with heavy vehicle traffic.

• Continue to manage medical conditions such as asthma, chronic respiratory disease and heart failure. If symptoms continue to be bothersome, seek medical attention.

• Use common sense regarding outdoor physical activity; if your breathing becomes difficult or uncomfortable, stop or reduce the activity.

• People with heart or lung conditions may be more sensitive to the effects of poor air quality and should watch for any change in symptoms that may be due to poor air quality exposure. Continue to control medical conditions such as asthma, hay fever, and chronic respiratory disease. If symptoms continue to be bothersome, seek medical attention.

• Keep windows and doors closed, and reduce indoor sources of pollution such as smoking and vacuuming.

• 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.

This air quality episode is caused by high levels of road dust, measured as PM10.

Road dust is kicked up when traffic volumes are high and winter traction material left on dry roads.

Real-time air quality observations and information regarding the health effects of air pollution can be found at https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/air-land-water/air.

READ MORE: Vernon dust advisory continued again


@VernonNews
newsroom@vernonmorningstar.com

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