VANCOUVER -- Air quality advisories are in effect for much of British Columbia due to drifting wildfire smoke, and many in Metro Vancouver are noticing it in the area.

A "smoky skies bulletin" was issued for parts of the province by Environment Canada Tuesday. The weather agency said smoke drifting north from the United States is impacting air quality in parts of B.C.'s Lower Mainland.

Additionally, there's been an impact on parts of Vancouver Island, the Kootenays and the Boundary region.

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Air quality statements have been issued for the following areas:

  • Arrow Lakes-Slocan Lake
  • Boundary
  • East and West Kootenay
  • East, Inland and West Vancouver Island
  • Fraser Valley
  • Greater Victoria
  • Howe Sound
  • Kootenay Lake
  • Metro Vancouver
  • Okanagan Valley
  • Similkameen
  • Southern Gulf Islands
  • Sunshine Coast
  • Whistler

Initially there were no alerts from Environment Canada for the Vancouver and Fraser Valley areas, but the agency issued statements shortly before 2 p.m. for both regions.

Metro Vancouver officials said the smoke is coming from Washington, Oregon and California, and was expected to continue to do so throughout the day.

"Current air quality is changing rapidly," the region said in a message on Twitter.

An advisory was issued in the afternoon due to a high concentration of fine particulate matter due to the fires south of the border.

Exactly which parts of Metro Vancouver will be most affected remains to be seen.

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

Anyone with chronic underlying medical conditions or infections including COVID-19 is advised to reduce their time outdoors until the advisory is lifted.

Additionally, Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement over warm temperatures expected in Metro Vancouver this week. 

In a post on social media, B.C.'s Provincial Health Services Authority wrote that smoke can have a negative effect on the immune system.

"It can irritate the lungs, cause inflammation, and alter immune function, making it much more difficult to fight respiratory infections such as COVID-19," PHSA posted on Instagram.

Citing the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, PHSA offered the following tips:

  • Use a portable air cleaner;
  • Use air conditioners, heat pumps, evaporative coolers, fans and window shades;
  • If you have forced air, talk to your service provider about filters;
  • Plan ahead using B.C.'s Asthma Prediction System; and
  • Avoid activities that can add to the air pollution, such as frying foods, vacuuming and using gas-powered appliances.

More tips are available on the BCCDC's website.


Surrey smoke

The smoky sky over Surrey is seen in a photo from CTV News Vancouver's Michele Brunoro on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020.

Smoke in Vancouver

The Vancouver skyline is seen from a camera atop the Shangri-La on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020.