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Smoky skies lead to 25% jump in dispensed inhalers in B.C.

Last Updated Sep 2, 2018 at 5:39 pm PDT

A smoky haze looms over Vancouver, Aug. 19, 2018. (Photo via twitter, @MetroVancouver)

According to the Ministry of Health, the 25% jump was seen in mid-August

BC Centre for Disease Control says the jump may be the new norm in the province

BRITISH COLUMBIA (NEWS 1130) – There’s been a big jump in dispensed inhalers around the province as people deal with the effects of wildfire smoke.

According to the Ministry of Health, this wildfire season led to a 25 per cent increase during the week of Aug. 13-19 compared to previous averages.

RELATED: Air quality at multiple B.C. communities at ‘very high risk’

The ministry says the increase was even higher in the Interior and the Northern region, at 37 and 42 per cent respectively.

“Wildfire smoke can have a negative impact on people who have asthma and other respiratory illnesses, children, pregnant women and the elderly,” read a statement from the ministry.

But a health scientist with the BC Centre for Disease Control says the jump in inhalers may be the new norm for the province.

“We may have even seen a stronger response. I think people in B.C. are getting a little bit more adept and aware of wildfire smoke so they’re learning to manage their conditions a little bit better,” says Sarah Henderson.

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As we experience longer wildfire seasons, those with underlying health concerns need to be prepared to deal with air quality advisories, Henderson adds.

“We’ve had two very bad seasons in a row now,” she says. “I would love to see everybody who has a respiratory condition go into the wildfire season with their asthma plan worked out with their physician.”

She says the smoke has affected a number of groups, including seniors, pregnant women and those with underlying medical conditions.