Smoke from the 2018 wildfires often made for a hazy sun in Quesnel. Tyler Olsen photo

Quesnel, Prince George and Williams Lake had worst air quality in Canada in 2018: report

All three cities also had some of the worst air quality in the world during the B.C. wildfires

Quesnel, Prince George and Williams Lake had the worst air quality in Canada in 2018, according to a Greenpeace and IQAir AirVisual report and rankings.

Quesnel had the worst air quality in Canada overall in 2018, followed by Prince George and Williams Lake.

Quesnel, Prince George and Williams Lake were also found to have had some of the worst air quality in the world during the 2018 B.C. wildfires.

The “unhealthy” range on the Air Quality Index is 55.5-150.4. During the fires in August 2018, the air quality in Quesnel was the seventh-worst in the world, at a reading of 74.2, Prince George was the ninth-worst with a reading of 72.2, and Williams Lake also made the list at No. 13, with a reading of 67.

READ MORE: Prince George among cities with worst air quality worldwide in 2018: report

Smoke from the fires blocked out the sun in Quesnel, with a cloud of orange smoke once enveloping the city in darkness at 1 p.m., and residents frequently woke up with their cars covered in ash.

Following the fires in Quesnel, the air quality went from “unhealthy” in August to “moderate” in September, October and November, before falling back within the air quality targets of the World Health Organization (WHO) in December.

“Our province’s vulnerability to forest wildfires has a major impact on the air we all breathe and has serious public health implications,” Eduardo Sousa, a senior campaigner at Greenpeace Canada, said in a press release. “The report really underscores that we need to act on climate change more robustly for the sake of our well-being and our environment.”

Air pollution is the world’s fourth-leading cause of early deaths, according to the Greenpeace report, and will take the lives of roughly seven million people in the next year.

Here’s a complete list of the cities with the 10 worst air quality rates in Canada in 2018:

– Quesnel, B.C.

– Prince George, B.C.

– Williams Lake, B.C.

– Fort Saskatchewan, Alta.

– Calgary, Alta.

– Bruderheim, Alta.

– Edmonton, Alta.

– Duncan, B.C.

– Lethbridge, Alta.

– Elk Island, Alta.

With files from Joti Grewal


Heather Norman
Community Reporter
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