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Air quality worsening in Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley

Last Updated Aug 14, 2018 at 12:04 pm PDT

FILE PHOTO: Haze covers parts of Metro Vancouver. (Photo taken July 6th, 2015) (Twitter via @bethyscotty)

Vancouver Coastal Health says stay inside, limit physical activity outdoors

Expert runner says if you can't forgo daily workout, take it easy and reduce length of workout

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Perhaps you’re among those coughing and congested this morning as the air quality in the Lower Mainland worsens due to the wildfire smoke wafting in from the interior.

Metro Vancouver has put an air quality advisory in place, and today’s air is the worse it’s been over the last couple weeks.

If you’ve got an underlying health condition, Tiffany Akins with Vancouver Coastal Health says you’re at higher risk of experiencing some challenges breathing during these conditions.

“Exposure is particularly of concern for infants, the elderly, anyone who has diabetes, lung disease, and heart disease,” she explains.

These conditions are set to stick around for a few days until the weather or wildfire situation changes. You’ll want to avoid smoking inside or burning anything and adding smoke to the already hazy air.

Akins advises you to use “common sense” when it comes to keeping yourself safe and if you’re working out and breathing becomes uncomfortable–stop.

“If you’re experiencing difficulty breathing, chest pain, discomfort, or a sudden cough or irritated air ways, that’s when you should see a doctor.”

Keep in mind there’s still a lot of fine particulate in the air even indoors if you’ve been keeping your windows open — if you’re in a position to buy an air purifier that could be an option to give you some relief.

“Try to close the doors, the windows, even though the weather is kind of hot. Turn on a fan or air conditioning indoors and limit exposure to outdoor air,” says St. Paul’s Respirologist Dr. Don Sin.

Exercising outside when there’s an air advisory

If you like being active outdoors, you should take it easy for a bit, while the advisory is in place.

However, seasoned runner and the Running Room’s John Stanton knows that some die-hards will stop at nothing to get in that jog around the neighbourhood. He says if you absolutely must get that jog in, you should choose to go to a forested area or somewhere along the water, where the air quality will be slightly better.

“If you have the choice of running up West 4th or maybe being along the ocean or maybe into Stanley Park, or one of the other parks in the area, head to the park for your workout that day.”

He says when you get into the wooded areas and closer to the ocean, lakes, or rivers in the area, the air quality goes up a because the natural foliage filters out a lot of the pollution in the air. He also suggests cutting down the length of your work out–and the intensity if you can.

“If you’re going to go for an hour run and that’s what you normally do, maybe today for a half an hour run and maybe go with a buddy who’s a little slower than you are,” he laughs. He also adds it’s never too late to switch up your routine and opt for indoor activities like swimming.

“Head indoors, head over to the local Y… go on the treadmill for a while and go for a swim. Maybe it’s a good day for cross-training.”