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Air quality advisory lifted for Lower Mainland, most parts of southern B.C. now ‘low risk’

A statue of children playing is seen amid haze in Penticton on Sept. 14.
A statue of children playing is seen amid haze in Penticton on Sept. 14. Julie Orban

Residents of southern British Columbia were breathing a little easier Saturday morning, as smoke from wildfires on the U.S. west coast finally began to clear.

Metro Vancouver lifted an 11-day old air quality advisory for the regional district and the Fraser Valley on Saturday afternoon.

For the first time in more than a week, the province’s Air Quality Health Index also rated most regions across the southern half of the province as “low risk.”

Click to play video 'B.C. afternoon weather forecast and air quality advisory: Sept. 18' B.C. afternoon weather forecast and air quality advisory: Sept. 18
B.C. afternoon weather forecast and air quality advisory: Sept. 18

Exceptions remained in Castlegar, which retained a rating of 10+, or “very high risk,” the South Okanagan and Cranbrook, which were rated “high” and the Central Okanagan, which remained at “moderate risk.”

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Read more: ‘Fresher air is on the way’: U.S. wildfire smoke over B.C. to clear this weekend

“Air quality has continued to improve since yesterday, but ground-level smoke still remains,” said Environment Canada in a bulletin issued early Saturday morning.

“A weather system is expected to bring further improvements through the weekend.”

READ MORE: ‘It’s affecting everybody’: B.C. residents urged to stay indoors, air quality remains among world’s worst

Metro Vancouver has been under an air quality advisory due to the fires for 11 days.

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People with underlying health conditions, seniors and young children remain advised to avoid strenuous outdoor activity.