The second air quality advisory in a month has been issued by the provincial Ministry of Environment and Island Health, warning those with underlying medical conditions to stay indoors and avoid wood smoke.
The advisory is in effect for the Cowichan Valley for the next three days, within 15 kilometres of Duncan City Hall, and open burning restrictions have also been put in place.
High concentrations of fine particulates are expected to continue until weather conditions change, the bulletin said. Levels as of 8 a.m. Tuesday morning were 32 micrograms per cubic metre, well exceeding the provincial objective of 25.
"Persons with chronic underlying medical conditions should postpone strenuous exercise until the advisory is lifted," said Earle Plain, an air quality meteorologist with the Ministry of Environment. "Staying indoors and in air conditioned spaces helps to reduce fine particulate exposure. Exposure is particularly a concern for infants, the elderly and those who have diabetes, and lung or heart disease.
People are asked to avoid the use of wood stoves and fireplaces unless necessary, and avoid backyard burning where a bylaw doesn’t exist. People are also asked to avoid idling their vehicles.
Wood smoke, commercial activities, industry and vehicles are contributors to the current poor air quality.