UPDATE: Air quality improves slightly

Breathing conditions are improving, though still not ideal

UPDATE 9:36 P.M.

Breathing conditions have taken a turn for the better.

As of 8 p.m. Monday, spots across the Okanagan had seen air pollution fall from the 178 to 180 PM 2.5 measured in the morning to around at 120 PM 2.5.

That means that it is no longer hazardous, it’s just unhealthy, to spend a lot of time outside.

ORIGINAL AUG. 20 7 A.M.

Don’t expect to breathe easy today, though you may be able to see through the haze a bit better.

Across the Okanagan and into the Shuswap the air has a high level of fine particulate matter — the issue that triggers all the health warnings that British Columbians are becoming increasingly well versed in.

PM2.5 are tiny particles in the air that reduce visibility and cause the air to appear hazy when levels are elevated. Outdoor PM2.5 levels are most likely to be elevated on days with little or no wind or air mixing.

In the last week, this level of pollution has reached record heights in the valley.

In Kelowna, for example, the weekend high of PM 2.5 was 473 — a volume that is deemed hazardous.

Similar levels were reached all across the Okanagan and Shuswap.

READ MORE: THE AIR IS BETTER IN ONE OF INDIA’S DIRTIEST CITIES

Today, however, there’s been some improvement and as of 7 a.m. this morning, the level reached 178 PM 2.5 in Kelowna, 186 in Vernon and 170 in Lavington, to name a few.

Despite being more than halved, the current level is still earning a 10-plus rating from Environment Canada, which is considered air quality of a “very high risk.”

To get an idea of what is happening, we looked at AirVisual’s real-time map that shows weather patterns alongside PM 2.5 concentrations. The map shows this corner of the earth enduring some of the most smoggy conditions, with concentrations topping some of the India and Asia’s most well known smoggy cities.

Air pollution is one of the leading preventable causes of death in the world, and the World Health Organization says nine out of 10 people on the planet breathe polluted air, and it kills 7 million people each year, almost all of them in poor countries in Asia and Africa.

About a quarter of deaths from heart disease, stroke and lung cancer can be attributed to air pollution, the WHO says.

While the air quality in many parts of B.C. is particularly bad at the moment, its overall yearly average is some of the best in the world.

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