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'Unhealthy' air in Metro Vancouver continues despite improvements

Last Updated Sep 16, 2020 at 1:22 pm PDT

Buildings in West Vancouver, B.C., are obscured due to the heavy smoke in the air Monday, Sept. 14, 2020. Heavy smoke and poor air quality have been caused due to the wildfires burning south of the border. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Despite the first glimpse of direct sunshine in over a week, the air quality for Metro Vancouver is a concern still

AQI readings in the 'unhealthy' range mean regional officials are maintaining the air quality advisory

The advisory has been in place since Sept. 8 and will likely continue to the end of the week

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — While conditions are getting better, wildfire smoke drifting in is a lingering concern for Metro Vancouver.

Global readings still place Vancouver in one of the top spots in the world for the worst air quality, with the average AQI readings still above 200, which is in the “unhealthy” range. Vancouver was second only to Portland as of Wednesday afternoon.

RELATED: Vancouver air quality among worst in the world due to distant U.S. wildfires

Kyle Howe, the air quality planner with Metro Vancouver, says their air quality advisory — which has been in place since the Sept. 8 — will likely continue until at least Friday.

“Well we’ve seen improvement across the region, there really isn’t a particular spot that is better than other places. I will say, parts of the Fraser Valley — places like Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Hope — do appear to have slightly lower concentrations,” he says.

“Partially that has to do with the meteorological conditions that they experience out there. In these sort of smoke events, we do see that smoke varies widely across the region and it can change quite rapidly.”

RELATED: Metro Vancouver waiting for weather to cooperate as smoke looms in the sky

Metro Vancouver warns smoke is still coming from the fire at New Westminster’s Park Pier, with authorities asking people to avoid the area and to stay indoors whenever possible.

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry recommended wearing masks outside because of the air quality.

Poor air quality has also prompted service alerts from Canada Post this week as a safety precaution for its employees. Some areas in southern B.C. had delivery cancelled altogether, while the company says it was doing its best to deliver in areas where conditions have improved.

Meanwhile, calls have been on the rise to WorkSafeBC over concerns about Metro Vancouver’s air quality.