Nelson and Kootenay Lake from Gyro Park on Sept. 14. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

UPDATE: West Kootenay air pollution 12 times safe level

Levels reached 20 times the safe level over the weekend

The air quality index measurement for the West Kootenay at Castlegar is one of the worst in the province.

According to the province’s health index page on Sept. 15, the air in Castlegar has a hazard rating of 10+ (Very High), along with Metro Vancouver and many other cities the southern interior.

A provincial chart shows that on Sept. 15 the current concentration of fine particles with a diameter of under 2.5 microns was at 293.1 micrograms per cubic metre, averaged over the previous 24 hours. A value of 25 is considered safe. Over the weekend the levels sometimes exceeded 500 micrograms per cubic metre.

A bulletin from Environment Canada dated Sept. 13 said that much of the smoke is from fires in the United States in addition to three Kootenay fires.

“With falling temperatures overnight, temperature inversions in mountain valleys can increase the likelihood of smoke being trapped near the ground. Localized impacts from the Talbott Creek, Woodbury Creek, and Doctor Creek fires continue to be expected,” the bulletin states.

The B.C. Wildfire service reported on Sept. 14 that air control of the Talbott Creek fire in the Slocan Valley has been suspended because of poor visibility.

A bulletin from Interior Health says people should stay inside as much as they can, or, if they have pre-existing respiratory conditions and live near a fire, consider leaving the area.

Smoke can worsen symptoms for people with asthma, allergies, and obstructive pulmonary disease. Symptoms could include difficulty breathing, chest pain or discomfort, coughing, and irritated eyes nose and throat.

“Smoke can also worsen cardiac disease,” the bullet states. “Inhaled particles trigger the release of chemical messengers into the blood that may increase the risk of blood clots, angina episodes, heart attacks and strokes. People with chronic cardiac conditions are more susceptible to chest pain, heart attacks, cardiac arrhythmia, acute congestive heart failure or stroke.”

Related: Talbott Creek fire grows to 860 hectares



bill.metcalfe@nelsonstar.com

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