Smoke from wildfires delivers jolt to Greater Victoria air quality

Online map collects air quality from home monitors

As the smoke from wildfires settled into the air space of Greater Victoria on Monday the reading from the air quality monitor hanging off the back of Ian Gillespie’s house shot up to 280 PM2.5.

Granted, the lack of air quality is no state secret. From Saanich, you couldn’t see Victoria, let alone to the end of most streets. Not only could you feel the smoke going into your lungs, you could practically wave your hand through it. The effects are well documented. At this level the smoke can be harmful to people living with asthma, emphysema and chronic bronchitis. The province makes updates available at bcairquality.ca.

But there’s another place to check air quality. It’s called SensorUp, and it relies on members of the public to install and plug in air quality monitors, which then relay instant updates via wifi to an online map open to anyone.

Gillespie, a psychiatrist who chairs a health promotion committee with Doctors of B.C., came across the SensorUp air quality monitors on a trip to Calgary. He ended up acquiring a batch of the monitors from SensorUp and distributed them to interested behind setting them up the monitors seen in Greater Victoria.

While still not visible to the human eye, the particulate matter that we’re breathing in is quite sizable. A quick backgrounder on PM2.5, it stands for particulate matter that’s 2.5 micrometers in size. A human hair is usually about 70 micrometres in diameter.

Victoria’s readout so far is still much lower than what was being reported in Kamloops, which has been “very unhealthy” with PM2.5 readings as high as 483 over the past 10 days. Anything over 35 PM2.5 is considered unhealthy for sensitive people and anything over 55 PM2.5 is considered unhealthy for the general population.

“My 13-year-old son is at [summer camp] this week, they may have to move inside,” Gillespie said. “There’s a lot of research on the effect of inhaling smoke [particulates] from biomass, or wood smoke, in B.C.

“The particles are inhaled deeply into the lungs, they’re linked to increased rates of heart attacks.”

reporter@saanichnews.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Garden-sharing map connects Victoria landowners and gardeners

U-Map created by Young Agrarians after COVID-19 created uptick in garden matching requests

Saanich wins award for climate plan cut from 2020 budget

‘It’s truly an exceptional plan,’ says councillor disappointed with lack of funding

New exhibit at Point Ellice House examines history of waste, water and privilege

Night soil scavengers in the 19th century would collect human waste and dump it around the city

Two injured hikers airlifted from North Vancouver Island Park

Campbell River and Comox Search and Rescue hoist team rescued the injured from Cape Scott Provincial Park

Victoria man collects 28 bags of trash along two-kilometre stretch of highway

20-year-old spent 12 hours collecting garbage near Thetis Lake

VIDEO: Musqueam Chief captures captivating footage of bald eagle catching meal

‘This is why we have chosen to live here since time immemorial,’ Chief Wayne Sparrow’s nephew says

Nanaimo RCMP ask for help finding missing 19-year-old

Haley Murphy has not been seen since Tuesday, June 30, say police

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest

Liberal party finished 2019 having spent $43 million, raised $42 million

All political parties had until midnight June 30 to submit their financial reports for last year

Most Read