Air quality advisory issued for Fort St. John and surrounding areas

An air quality advisory has been issued for Fort St. John as wildfire smoke continues to linger in the air.

The Ministry of Environment and Northern Health issued the alert just before noon today, and say smoky conditions are expected to continue for at least the next 24 hours.

The alert advises anyone who has difficulty breathing, experiences chest pain, or the sudden onset of a cough or irritated lungs to contact a healthcare professional.

The agencies say, “Exposure is particularly a concern for infants, the elderly and those who have underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, and lung or heart disease.”

The following tips have also been issued for area residents this weekend:

· People with heart or lung conditions should watch for any change in symptoms that may be due to smoke exposure. If any symptoms are noted, affected individuals should take steps to reduce their exposure to smoke and if necessary see their physician. People with symptoms should go to their health care provider, walk in clinic or emergency department depending on severity of symptoms.

· Use common sense regarding outdoor physical activity – if your breathing becomes difficult or uncomfortable, stop or reduce the activity.

· Stay cool and drink plenty of fluids.

· Smoke levels may be lower indoors, however levels of smoke particles will still be increased. If you stay indoors, be aware of your symptoms.

· Consider visiting a location like a shopping mall with cooler filtered air. Keep in mind that staying indoors may help you stay cool and provide some relief from the smoke, however many air conditioning systems do not filter the air or improve indoor air quality.

· Reduce indoor pollution sources such as smoking or burning other materials.

· You may be able to reduce your exposure to smoke by moving to cleaner air. Conditions can vary dramatically by area and elevation.

· Residents with asthma or other chronic illness should activate their asthma or personal care plan.

Air quality information can be found at www.bcairquality.ca.