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. 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 – Sep 18, 2020

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.

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