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(local time)SEE WORLD AQI RANKING
live AQI index
|Air pollution level
|Air quality index
| 19 US AQI
PM2.5 concentration in Chilliwack air currently meets the WHO annual air quality guideline value
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|Friday, Mar 1
Good 24 AQI US
|Saturday, Mar 2
Good 23 AQI US
|Sunday, Mar 3
Good 19 AQI US
Good 19 AQI US
|Tuesday, Mar 5
Good 7 AQI US
|Wednesday, Mar 6
Good 10 AQI US
|Thursday, Mar 7
Good 17 AQI US
|Friday, Mar 8
Good 13 AQI US
|Saturday, Mar 9
Good 7 AQI US
|Sunday, Mar 10
Good 4 AQI US
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Chilliwack is a city in the Canadian province of British Columbia and is located 102 kilometers east of Vancouver just off the Trans-Canada Highway. It used to have a thriving agricultural community but recently it has developed more as a suburb. According to a census conducted in 2016, the population was estimated to be approximately 84,000 people, rising to 101,500 when the metro area is also included.
At 00.00 13th August 2021, Chilliwack was experiencing a period of “Very Unhealthy” air with a US AQI reading of a considerable 263. This United States Air Quality Index number is calculated using the levels of six of the most commonly occurring air pollutants, which are nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, ozone, carbon monoxide and both sizes of particulate matter, which are PM2.5 and PM10. It can be used as a standard when comparing air quality in other cities around the world. If data is unavailable for all 6 pollutants, a figure can still be calculated by using what figures there are. At Chilliwack, only PM2.5 was available which was 212.9 µg/m³. The World Health Organization (WHO) has a recommended level of 10 µg/m³, so with this figure, it can be seen that the level in Chilliwack was over 21 times the recommended safe level, although no level of pollution is thought of as being safe. At this time, Chilliwack is the 5thmost polluted city in British Columbia.
With pollution at this level, the proffered advice would be to stay indoors and close all doors and windows to prevent the ingress of more polluted air. An air purifier would be beneficial if one is available, but it needs to be calibrated to re-circulate the air and not merely suck more in from outside. Avoid outdoor exercising until the air quality improves but if venturing outside is unavoidable, then wearing a good quality face mask is essential. The table that is published at the top of this page should help with that decision or download the AirVisual app for constant updates as to the state of the air in real-time.
The air quality in Chilliwack is usually stable throughout the year, the exception being during the wildfire season when the quality declines. In 2020, according to the table published by IQAir.com, the worst month for air quality was September when the recorded figure was 12.7 µg/m³ which was classified as being “Moderate”. Any figure between 12.1 and 35.4 µg/m³ is classed as such. The following month of October returned the next worst figure with a reading of 10.4 µg/m³. The remaining ten months of the year saw Chilliwack achieve the target figure of 10 µg/m³ or less as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). The month of January appeared to enjoy the best air quality with a reading of just 2.9 µg/m³.
Historically, records on air quality were kept from 2019 when the figure was noted to be 6.6 µg/m³. Last year in 2020, the figure was 6.0 µg/m³ which showed a slight improvement. This figure should come as no surprise because of the restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many vehicles were temporarily unused because their drivers were not required to work from the office, instead they were furloughed and were allowed to work from home. This had the effect of drastically reducing pollution within the city center, due to the reduced numbers of vehicles on the roads. Many small factories and non-essential production units were also closed which again lead to an improvement in air quality.
Air quality is an environmental and social issue of high priority since it can have a weighty effect on the quality of life. The Lower Fraser Valley Air shed (LFVA), in which Chilliwack is located, is confined because air becomes trapped in the valley due to the surrounding mountains and makes the area subject to inversions. As a result, the air shed is susceptible to the build-up of contaminants. Therefore, measures are required to reduce the potential impact on human health, visibility and the environment.
Vehicles, together with industrial and agricultural emissions have the greatest impact on air quality. Weather conditions also influence Chilliwack’s air quality, as the wind from the west carries pollutants up the valley, where they become trapped.
During certain times of the year, the main pollutant in Chilliwack is smoke from wildfires which can drift hundreds of miles from its source. Forest fire smoke is a complex and dynamic mixture of gases and very small particles that can irritate the respiratory system and cause systemic inflammation.
Dozens of fires ravaged western Canada recently, forcing thousands of people to evacuate and lowering hopes that the deadly heatwave that is hitting the region will subside. The village of Lytton which is 250 kilometers northeast of Vancouver has been engulfed with many of the buildings sustaining structural damage. It is estimated that 90 percent of the village is on fire which includes the town center.
Although not everyone is equally sensitive to wildfire smoke, it is best to avoid breathing it if it can be avoided. And when the smoke is heavy, like that produced in the vicinity of a forest fire, it is harmful to anyone.
Smoke is made from a complex mixture of gases and fine particles that are produced when firewood and other organic materials are burned. The biggest health threat from smoke comes from fine particles. These microscopic particles can go deep into the lungs. They can cause a host of health problems, such as eye irritation and a runny nose to chronic heart and lung disease. Exposure to particulate pollution is even linked to premature death.
Researchers have determined that the smoke released into the air during forest fires can be up to 10 times more toxic to human health than that from urban traffic. This is so because of the difference in the chemical composition of the particles emitted by both sources.
Some of them have also been concerned about dangerous air pollutants such as formaldehyde, benzene, and hydrogen cyanide in wildfire smoke. Ground-level ozone is also of concern as it is a respiratory irritant and can be formed through chemical reactions of other air pollutants in wildfire smoke. At least one study found that particles from wildfire smoke are more toxic than particles from other sources. Other studies have found that for every unit of increase in PM2.5 from wildfires, there is a greater increase in people visiting the doctor for asthma than for other sources of PM2.5.
A new study now suggests that the dangers posed by wildfire smoke may also extend to the largest organ in the human body and our first line of defense against the threat from outside: the skin. The skin is the largest organ of the human body and is in constant interaction with the external environment. So it makes sense that changes in the external environment, such as the increase or decrease in air pollution, may affect the health of the skin. Air pollution from wildfires, consisting of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and gases, can affect both normal and eczema-prone skin in several ways.
Eczema, or atopic dermatitis, is a chronic disease that affects the skin's ability to act as an effective barrier against environmental factors. Because the skin barrier has been compromised, people with this condition are prone to red, itchy skin outbreaks in response to irritants, and maybe even more prone to damage from air pollution.
Forest fires can increase the concentrations of tropospheric ozone, a secondary pollutant located in the lower layers of the atmosphere and with a great irritant capacity of the respiratory tract that can lead to hospitalizations for respiratory diseases.
Many of the sources of air pollution also produce greenhouse gases (fossil fuel combustion, agriculture); therefore, Chilliwack is taking a combined approach to address the associated issues of air pollution, energy and GHGs. Greenhouse gas emissions are of major concern due to their contribution to global climate change and related ecological impacts.
To reduce greenhouse gas emissions and smog-causing pollutants, the city has launched an "anti-idling" campaign. Most Canadians idle their vehicle for 5-10 minutes a day. Idling creates unnecessary pollution that is released into the environment, contributing to smog and poor air quality.
The emission of pollutants generated by forest fires, agricultural burning, garbage and tire combustion, motor vehicles, manufacturing industry, soil erosion, open dumps and sewage currently contribute significantly to the air pollution and are responsible for local and global contingency episodes.
The only solution is to truly engage in an energy transition policy that transfers highly polluting and carbon-based energies (oil, coal, fuel oil and gas) to cleaner energies while initiating a significant reduction in these needs. We think of the transfer of road freight to rail freight, the production of clean vehicles at affordable costs, the production of carbon-free and non-polluting electrical energy. Much investment is already being made in solar energy and wind power. Some areas in the US are better at one source than the other.
Smog is the general term used to describe a variety of air pollutants, including ground-level ozone (the main component of smog), particulate matter, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxides. The term refers to air pollution that forms when gases from many sources are released into the air and chemically react with each other in sunlight. The prevailing winds often carry smog inland toward the mountains, where an inversion layer of warm air pushes it downward, trapping smog close to the ground where we live and breathe. This is particularly true about the Lower Fraser Valley where Chilliwack is located.
Ground-level ozone (O3) is a colorless, odorless pollutant that is formed by a chemical reaction between volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) in the presence of sunlight. The main sources of VOCs and NOx are mobile sources which include cars, trucks and buses plus farm equipment and construction equipment or any engine that is powered by fossil fuels.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless and odorless gas that is a by-product of combustion produced mainly by automobiles but burned wood and charcoal also emit carbon monoxide.
Particulate matter (PM) is the term used for a mixture of solid and liquid particles found in the air. It originates from a variety of sources including automobiles, power plants, construction activities, dry soil, soot, and industrial processes. Coarse particulates (PM10) are generally emitted from sources such as wind-blown dust, vehicles traveling on unpaved roads, and crushing and grinding operations. Fine particles (PM2.5) can come from the combustion of fuels (cars, power generation, industrial plants) and fugitive dust. Fine particles are formed mainly in the atmosphere from gases such as sulfur oxides, NOx, and VOCs.
The sun acts directly on pollution by transforming nitrogen oxides into ozone. It is photochemical pollution.
The weather can influence air quality sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worst. The wind can be a good ally in the fight against pollution because it promotes the dispersion of pollutants. But sometimes by moving the polluted air, it merely moves the problem to another area.
Rain also leaches the air by dissolving the molecules of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides in water. The air is purified, but the rains turn acidic which in itself can cause a lot of damage to infrastructure.
n summer, high temperatures can act on the formation of ozone. In winter, the temperature differences between night and day cause thermal inversions and pollution domes. In winter, buildings must also be heated and energy produced, which releases pollutants during the combustion of fossil fuels or biomass.
Air pollution affects some groups of people in a worse way than others, but even young, strong healthy people will feel the effects of poor air quality. Individuals with heart disease, coronary artery disease or congestive heart failure and those with lung diseases such as asthma, emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), will feel the effects first. Pregnant women, outdoor workers and children under the age of 14 will also suffer before others.