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Posted: May 30, 2020

Provincial air quality alert service expanding

British Columbians wanting timely air quality alerts in their area can now get them sent directly to their cellphones.

Starting Friday, May 29, the air quality alert subscription service is expanding beyond email notifications to allow people to receive real-time air quality advisories and smoky skies bulletins by text. Both alert the public about existing or potential poor air quality, while providing appropriate health advice and protective actions that can be taken.

“Whether for COVID-19-related reasons, for wildfire smoke information or for pure curiosity, you can now reach no further than your pocket to find out about the air quality around you,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “This subscription service is a helpful tool for all British Columbians, particularly for those with pre-existing or chronic health conditions, the elderly, pregnant women, those concerned about the health of their infants or small children, or those just looking to spend some time being active outside.”

Public health notifications advising people of potential or existing poor air quality in their communities have been available by email through the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy’s subscription service since September 2019.

People can sign up for the mobile service on the Government of British Columbia’s air quality website to automatically receive air quality advisories and smoky skies bulletins, through text messages, email notifications or both.

There are currently 76 community-specific sites that provide hourly data to a central database where they are processed, stored and posted near real-time on the B.C. air quality website.

Air quality advisories are issued for individual communities and usually result from local activities occurring within or near that community.

Local pollutant sources include vehicle emissions, industrial emissions, open burning, residential wood burning and road dust.

Advisories are sent when measurements of an air pollutant in a community exceed its short-term provincial air quality objectives.

Smoky skies bulletins are specific to wildfire smoke, which can occur over large distances and change quickly.

Smoky sky bulletins are issued when areas of the province are being affected or have reasonable potential to be affected by wildfire smoke within 24 to 48 hours.

Lead image courtesy B.C. Government

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