Air quality advisory in effect for Cowichan Valley. (File photo)

Air quality advisory in effect for Cowichan Valley. (File photo)

UPDATE: Air quality advisory lifted for Cowichan Valley

Open burning ban remains in effect

An air-quality advisory for the Cowichan Valley was issued Monday due to the high concentrations of fine particulates in the air.

By Tuesday morning the advisory had been lifted, though open burning restrictions remained in effect, and clean air proponents said the advisory was indicative of chronic air quality problems in the Cowichan Valley.

During the advisory, the Ministry of Environment in collaboration with Island Health advised that people with chronic underlying medical conditions should postpone strenuous exercise until the advisory was lifted.

For Jennifer Lawson, a founding member of the Fresh Air Cowichan Team (FACT), the air advisory meant that she had to wear a special mask outdoors to deal with her ongoing health problems with unclean air.

“Staying indoors and in air conditioned spaces helps to reduce fine particulate exposure,” according to the advisory.

“Exposure is particularly a concern for infants, the elderly and those who have diabetes, and lung or heart disease.”

Open burning restrictions were also put into effect for the Cowichan Valley within 25 kilometres of Duncan city hall for a period of two days as a result of the advisory.

Under the restrictions, no new fires could be started and no additional material could be added to existing fires.

For more information on current air quality, check out www2.gov.bc.ca.

Lawson said she expects that air quality advisory may be related to the ongoing fires across the Valley that people are using to burn the wood waste left over from the massive windstorm that struck the area on Dec. 20.

Most branches can be dropped off for free at the Cowichan Valley Regional District Bings Creek Transfer Station as yard waste.

Lawson said that no one is immune from fine particulates in the air.

“They are too small for most people to handle, and studies show that they are linked to a variety of diseases,” Lawson said.

“Deteriorating health of many of the citizens of the Valley is the true cost of having so much particulate matter in our air.”

Lawson encouraged anyone looking for more information on the impacts of poor air to check out the Breathe Clean Air Comox Valley website at breathecleanair.ca.