911 calls for breathing issues jump as smoky haze chokes Vancouver’s air quality

Click to play video: 'Growing health concerns over forest fire smoke in Metro Vancouver'
Growing health concerns over forest fire smoke in Metro Vancouver
Wed, Aug 2: There are growing concerns about air quality in southwestern B.C. due to smoke from forest fires. As John Hua reports, the air quality index in the Fraser Valley has hit nine out of 10 – Aug 2, 2017

Most people see Metro Vancouver’s air quality as they wake up and see communities covered in a smoky haze.

Paramedics are seeing it through a jump in 911 calls for breathing issues.

Coverage of air quality on

“Typically we see about five per cent of our call volume being related to breathing problems,” Joe Acker with the BC Ambulance Service said.

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People are being advised to avoid any strenuous activity outside.

The people who are most affected by the decline in air quality have pre-existing breathing problems such as asthma and emphysema, Acker said.

Symptoms associated with those conditions are being aggravated by particles in the haze.

“The particles are from the wildfires obviously, from the combustion, and those small particles are what’s causing a lot of the irritation that people are feeling,” he said.

Anyone who has a sensitivity to those particles is advised to stay indoors.

“Use a fan, use an air conditioner with a re-circulation filter. Just try to avoid being outside,” Acker urged.

The smoky conditions and heat are expected stick around through the weekend.

Acker anticipated that it will be a busy one for emergency services.

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