Update Tuesday, March 10 at 10:45 a.m.:
The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, in collaboration with the Northern Health Authority, has ended the Air Quality Advisory that was issued for Quesnel on March 9.
“Changing meteorological conditions have improved conditions across the region,” according to a media release from the provincial government.
Original story from Monday, March 9:
The provincial Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, in collaboration with Northern Health, has issued a Dust Advisory for Quesnel Monday, March 9.
“High concentrations of dust are expected to persist until there is precipitation or dust suppression,” according to the advisory. “Dust concentrations tend to be highest around busy roads and industrial operations. This advisory is in effect until further notice.”
The current dusty conditions are caused by road traffic stirring up winter traction materials that have accumulated on roadways over the winter, and dusty conditions are expected to improve overnight as the weather changes, according to the advisory.
Dust Advisories are based on particulate matter, which is the tiny solid or liquid particles that float in the air. Some particles are large or dark enough to be seen as smoke, soot or dust, while others are so small that they can only be detected with an electron microscope, according to the provincial government.
PM10, which is the particulate matter measured for this advisory, is particulate matter less than 10 microns and invisible to the naked eye and small enough to inhaled into our nose and throat. It comes from road dust, road construction, mixing and applying fertilizers and pesticides and from forest fires.
The Province says coarse particles irritate the nose and throat but do not normally penetrate deep into the lungs.
The Provincial Ambient Air Quality Objective for PM10 is 50 micrograms per cubic metre (µgm-3), averaged over 24 hours. The current 24-hour average PM10 concentration for Quesnel is 64.6 µgm-3, while the average for Prince George is 48.4, and the average for Williams Lake is 28.3.
According to the advisory, exposure to dust is particularly a concern for infants, the elderly and those who have diabetes, and lung or heart disease. People who have chronic underlying medical conditions should postpone strenuous exercise near busy roads until the advisory is lifted.
The advisory encourages anyone who is experiencing symptoms such as continuing eye or throat irritation, chest discomfort, shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing to follow the advice of their health care provider.
Real-time air quality information from Quesnel and other B.C. communities can be found online at https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/air-land-water/air.