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Air quality advisory in effect for Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley

An air quality advisory is in effect for parts of Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley as wildfire smoke and high temperatures create hazy, potentially hazardous conditions.

Metro Vancouver issued the advisory Wednesday due to elevated levels of fine particulate matter and ground-level ozone and the regional district says it is expected to remain in effect until a change in weather.

"Smoke concentrations may vary widely across the region as winds, temperatures, and wildfire behaviour changes," the advisory says.

According to Geoff Doerkson, an air quality planner with Metro Vancouver, this is not the earliest in the summer an advisory has been issued due to wildfire smoke.

He says that record was set in 2009, although in recent years, the frequency of advisories has increased.

"Six of the last eight summers, our region has been significantly impacted by wildfire smoke," Doerkson said. "And our climate projections indicate this will only become more frequent and severe with the changing climate."

The advisory covers northeast and southeast Metro Vancouver, which includes Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, the North Shore, the tri-cities and parts of Richmond and Delta. It also covers the central and eastern parts of the Fraser Valley which includes Abbotsford, Mission, Chilliwack and Hope.

A map from the regional district shows risk ranging from moderate to high. People in the region are urged to consider reducing or postponing strenuous outdoor activity, especially if they are at higher risk.

Those with health conditions like asthma, COPD, lung disease or heart disease are particularly vulnerable, as are younger children, those who are pregnant and seniors. Outdoor workers and people who are homeless or otherwise "socially marginalized" are also at heightened risk.

The regional district says "both cool and clean air" are important, and encourages people to seek out public air-conditioned spaces if they do not have AC at home.

Anyone with symptoms including chest discomfort, shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing is advised to seek medical attention.

Wiht files from CTV News Vancouver's Ben Miljure. Top Stories

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