August 4, 2017 12:27 am
Updated: August 4, 2017 9:23 am

Smokey skies continue to smother some B.C. towns

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Air quality issues continue to plague B.C. towns as forest fire smoke smothers the air to the point where medical officials are today warning everyone to stay inside if possible.

“With this levels of smoke we are reaching out to both groups: both people that are healthy and people with chronic medical conditions,” Dr. Silvina Mema, medical health officer with the Interior Health Authority (IHA) said.

The IHA along with the Norther Health Authority issued a Smokey Skies warning Thursday as air quality levels plummeted in many cities.

Air quality is measured on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being a very high health risk. Kamloops was 16 at 7 p.m. Thursday, while the Eastern Fraser Valley was 10.

Kelowna was reported to be measuring at six, while Vernon was seven.

“For people with chronic medical conditions, they should be taking precautions,” Dr. Mema said. “But in fact, today, it’s a good idea for everybody to stay indoors or seek clean air, shelters, malls, community centres, libraries: everybody [should] avoid being outside.”

“For people having a chronic medical condition, staying outdoors may trigger them to experience worsening of their systems, so someone with chronic heart failure, or with COPD will experience shortness of breath and difficulty breathing, and in that case they should seek medical advice. However, if they stay indoors, they will minimize their risk.”

The general population should expect to experience shortness of breath if exercising in the current poor air conditions, Dr. Mema said.

Dr. Mema advised against wearing a mask.

“Wearing masks may even worsen people’s subjective feeling of shortness of breath by having something covering their mouth,” she said.

Current air quality data can be found published on the B.C. Government website here.

Fires in the Cariboo region of B.C. are producing the smoke that is blanketing the province.

A current map of B.C. wildfires can be found here.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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