Smoke from the wildfires burning in the B.C. Interior has finally made it out to the coast. It obscured the sunrise this morning, making for a spectacular show of colours in the sky.

Environment Canada has issued an Air Quality Advisory for Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, east Vancouver Island, Greater Victoria and the Southern Gulf Islands.

The agency is warning that outflow winds would funnel the smoke out towards the region. Forecast models suggest high concentrations of particulate matter will persist for several days, with some of that smoke reaching ground level later today.

smoky sunrise 2

Wildfire smoke obscures the sunrise over the Southern Gulf Islands. Aug. 1, 2017. (Astrid Braunschmidt/CTV Vancouver Island)

At 9:55am a Special Air Quality statement was issued for Powell River and Whistler:

Special air quality statement for Powell River issued by Environment Canada (EC) at 09:55 a.m. PDT Tuesday 01 August 2017.

    Valid from: 09:55 a.m. PDT Tuesday 01 August 2017

    Valid to: 09:55 a.m. PDT Thursday 03 August 2017

***What this means to you:

Individuals may experience symptoms such as increased coughing, throat irritation, headaches or shortness of breath. Children, seniors, and those with cardiovascular or lung disease, such as asthma, are especially at risk.

People with lung diseases, such as asthma and COPD, can be particularly sensitive to air pollution. They will generally experience more serious health effects at lower levels. Pollution can aggravate their diseases, leading to increased medication use, doctor and emergency room visits, and hospital visits.

***Recommended actions:

Stay inside if you have breathing difficulties. Find an indoor place that’s cool and ventilated. Using an air conditioner that cools and filters air may help. If you open the windows you may let in more polluted air. If your home isn’t air-conditioned, consider going to a public place (library, shopping mall, recreation centre) that is air-conditioned.

air quality health index

What is fine particulate matter?

It’s basically solid or liquid droplets with a diameter of up to 2.5 micrometres. It’s also known as PM2.5. To put that in perspective, hairspray droplets are between 3 and 10 micrometres in size. The width of a strand of spiderweb silk is between 3 and 8 micrometres. These fine particulates are able to get indoors because of their small size.

More information on air quality can be found at and