Another Dust Advisory has been issued for Quesnel.
It has kind of been on again, off again for the the past week.
Gavin King is an Air Quality Meteorologist with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.
“It is spring time. As with every year as the snow starts to melt and the traction material is on the road. We do tend to see a lot of lofting of particulate from the roads, and that results in the high course particulate, the PM10 numbers that we see.”
King says there is a reason that they don’t just leave the advisories on until they are expected to come off for the long term.
“Advisories can only be issued if the regulatory requirements for an advisory are met, so there is a minimum number of 50 for an average for the day where advisories are valid. They’re not supposed to be a tool, like the smoky skies advisory in the summer where we can forecast that they’re might be snow, these are reactive to the conditions that we’re seeing. So it is a bit of a regulatory requirement.”
The reading in Quesnel at the time of this advisory was 92.3 micrograms per cubic metre, well above the provincial air quality objective of 50, and King says that number had increased to 100 as of 9 o’clock Monday morning.
Williams Lake, on the other hand, is only at 9 micrograms per cubic metre.
King says he expects the advisory to remain in place in Quesnel until there is a change in the weather.
“If we’re still having clear skies, dry roads, we’re gong to see dust. If we get some rain or it goes cold again and maybe there is a bit more snow, then we’ll see those numbers drop back down and the advisory will come off. But as we’re rolling into spring, as we do every year, we start to see those numbers spike and it’s unfortunately something that happens every single year that we have.”
King says people who are near major roads are always going to be more heavily impacted by the dust because it’s coming from those roads, and he says the same can said for people who are walking along the sides of those roads.
Exposure is more of a concern for individuals with chronic conditions such as asthma, heart disease, and diabetes, as well as respiratory infections such as COVID-19, pregnant women, infants, and older adults.
Persons with chronic underlying medical conditions or acute infections should postpone or reduce strenuous exercise until the advisory is lifted.