Vernon’s dust advisory issued St. Patrick’s Day continues.
The Ministry of Environment, in partnership with Interior Health, said Monday, March 20, the advisory remains in effect due to high concentrations of coarse particular matter. The high concentration of matter is expected to persist until there’s precipitation, dust suppression or a change in traffic patterns.
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.
The provincial air quality objective for PM10 is 50 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3 ), averaged over 24 hours. As of 8 a.m. Monday, Vernon’s PM10 reading was 54.2, compared to 29.9 for Kelowna, 34.9 for Golden and 18.3 for Castlegar.
Exposure is particularly a concern for individuals with chronic conditions such as asthma, COPD, heart disease, and diabetes; respiratory infections such as COVID-19, pregnant women, infants, and older adults.
Persons with chronic underlying medical conditions or acute infections should postpone or reduce strenuous exercise until the advisory is lifted. Where appropriate, maintain physical distancing.
Anyone experiencing symptoms such as continuing eye or throat irritation, chest discomfort, shortness of breath, cough or wheezing, should follow the advice of their health care provider. Staying indoors helps to reduce particulate matter exposure.
Real-time air quality observations and information regarding the health effects of air pollution can be found at https://www.gov.bc.ca/airquality.