High amounts of road sand caused Quesnel to be put under a dust advisory for much of last week. A city worker here tries to get a handle on some of the dust lining the sides of Front Street on Friday, March 12. (Cassidy Dankochik Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)

UPDATE: Dust advisory ends for Quesnel

The dust was caused by road sand whipped into the air by traffic


Quesnel’s dust advisory has finally been lifted.

“Changing meteorological conditions have improved conditions across the region,” the updated advisory reads.

According the the ministry of environment and climate change strategy, the amount of grit in the air is 46.6 micrograms per cubic metre, just under the provincial air quality objective of 50.

Emcon Quesnel tweeted on Saturday, March 13, warning residents to keep an eye out for their street sweeping teams.

“When you see our Crews, please give them lots or room to work and have some patience as the equipment is not fast moving,” their post reads.


That isn’t fog rolling along the streets and highways of Quesnel in recent weeks — it’s dust.

For days, Quesnel has been under a dust advisory from Northern Health and Environment Canada. Provincial air quality standards are set at 50 micrograms per cubic metre, and Quesnel was sitting at 88.3 Friday morning.

On Friday morning the level of dust in the air was triple the amount in Prince George and almost double Williams Lake.

Air quality meteorologist for the ministry of environment and climate change strategy, Gavin King, said he thinks the high levels of dust are caused by buildup of road sand.

“We have significant issues with traction material on the roads. Across the north … you see the same issue, it happens every spring. The snow melts, and you’re left with all that dust left on the road.”

The road sand is then whipped up and around by both wind and traffic.

King made a distinction between smoke, which he classified as fine particulate matter, and the “coarse” kind of dust in the air in Quesnel.

“We know there are health risks linked to particulate matter, and in particular coarse particulate matter, however we know that fine particulate matter is probably worse for you,” he said. “They’re different reactions. If you’re exposed to multiple days of anything that is bad for you, it’s just going to be worse.”

King said a chance of showers over the weekend could provide some relief for Quesnel.

“We won’t see a change in the dust until we see a change in the weather — rain or snow, or the traction material gets removed from the roads,” he said.

In the dust warnings sent out by the ministry, warnings and suggested best practices are given. The biggest one is avoiding exposure to high risk areas by staying indoors as much as possible if you are concerned.

“Exposure is particularly a concern for individuals with chronic conditions such as asthma, COPD, heart disease, and diabetes; respiratory infections such as COVID19, pregnant women, infants, and older adults,” the alert reads. “Persons with chronic underlying medical conditions or acute infections should postpone or reduce strenuous exercise until the advisory is lifted.”

Symptoms of exposure include eye or throat irritation, chest discomfort, shortness of breath and coughing or wheezing.

READ MORE: Dust advisory ends in Quesnel

READ MORE: Quesnel firefighters respond to blaze at closed Tolko Industries site

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: cassidy.dankochik@quesnelobserver.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Environment Canada weatherQuesnel

Just Posted

Environment Canada has issued a thunderstorm watch for the Cariboo north including Quesnel. (Black Press file image)
Environment Canada issues thunderstorm watch for Quesnel

A chance of thundershowers is forcasted to last until Tuesday

The Gold Pan Grannies attended the Quesnel Farmers’ Market where they sold perennials and vegetable plants and fruit trees by donation Saturday, May 29. They were able to raise $1,000 for the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
Gold Pan Grannies raise $1,000 for Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign

Annual plant sale at Quesnel Farmers’ Market a success

Amy Vardy is one of four dancers to compete in their final year of the Quesnel Festival of the Performing Arts. (Submitted Photo)
Quesnel Festival of the Arts graduating dancer profile: Amy Vardy

The Quesnel Festival of the Performing arts is honouring their graduating dancers

Ranch Musings columnist David Zirnhelt. (File photo)
RANCH MUSINGS: Predictions of climate variability and effects on agriculture

Oliver Rujanschi, we will miss you and the warmth that you were. Sorry friend

Emily Nelson is one of four graduating dancers honoured by the Quesnel Festival of the Performing Arts.(Submitted Photo - Robyn Louise Photography)
Quesnel Festival of the Arts graduating dancer profile: Emily Nelson

The Festival of the Arts is honouring graduating dancers

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

Calgary Stampeders’ Jerome Messam leaps over a tackle during second half CFL western semifinal football action in Calgary, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
CFL football will be played this summer in Canada

Governors vote unanimously in favour to start the ‘21 campaign on Aug. 5

Most Read