The provincial Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, in collaboration with Northern Health, has issued a Dust Advisory for Quesnel Thursday, March 19 due to road traffic stirring up winter traction materials that have accumulated on roadways over the winter.
“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.”
Exposure to dust is particularly a concern for pregnant women, infants, the elderly and those who have diabetes, and lung or heart disease. The advisory says people with chronic underlying medical conditions should postpone strenuous exercise near busy roads until the advisory is lifted.
If you are experiencing symptoms such as continuing eye or throat irritation, chest discomfort, shortness of breath, cough or wheezing, follow the advice of your health care provider.
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 (µg m-3), averaged over 24 hours. The current 24-hour average PM10 concentration for Quesnel is 54 µg m-3, while the average for Williams Lake is 40.2, and the average for Prince George is 22.1.
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.