VANCOUVER -- An air quality advisory for eastern parts of Metro Vancouver, as well as the Fraser Valley, has led health officials to warn against strenuous outdoor exercise until the advisory lifts.

Metro Vancouver issued the advisory Sunday afternoon, as the Lower Mainland and much of the rest of B.C. was experiencing hot, sunny weather that also prompted heat-related advisories from Environment Canada.

The regional body advises the public to avoid strenuous outdoor activities between mid-afternoon and early evening, especially if breathing feels uncomfortable. Indoor spaces with air conditioning can offer relief from both heat and air pollution, Metro Vancouver said, though it warned people seeking shelter indoors to continue to observe physical distancing guidelines put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Metro Vancouver said ground-level ozone concentrations were expected to remain high until Monday and potentially longer as the hot weather continues.

Ground-level ozone is formed when pollutants emitted by burning fuel react with volatile organic compounds in the air in the presence of sunlight. The highest levels of ground-level ozone generally occur between mid-afternoon and early evening on summer days, according to Metro Vancouver.

People with respiratory infections, including COVID-19, are among those who are particularly susceptible to negative effects from exposure to air pollution, Metro Vancouver said. Underlying conditions such as lung disease, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma and diabetes may also face elevated risks, as may pregnant people, children, older adults and people who work outdoors.

Metro Vancouver advises anyone experiencing symptoms such as chest discomfort, shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing to seek medical attention.