In collaboration with Environment Canada, the BC Ministry of Environment and Metro Vancouver (in the Greater Vancouver area) operate air quality monitors that detect the presence of harmful substances in the air. The Ministry of Environment, and the Environmental Health Services at BCCDC assess risks to health arising from air pollution and, with the Regional Health Authorities (RHAs), advise the public of ongoing and immediate situations where poor air quality threatens health.
Wildfires and Smoke
Wildfires are predicted to become more frequent and severe as the global climate changes. During wildfires, public health practitioners and emergency managers are faced with the daunting task of protecting the public from the threat of smoke- and fire-related illness. In order to assist public health decision makers in BC, the BCCDC struck an international working group was struck to develop consensus guidelines for use during wildfire smoke events. The resulting document is available here:
In addition, the province has struck the Health Wildfire Smoke Response Coordination Group to coordinate planning and response efforts related to public health impacts for significant wildfire smoke events in BC. The guideline document for this group builds on the guidance document above, and it can be found here:
The international working group brought together experts tasked with assessing the evidence related to wildfire smoke and public health. The group originally identified nine key topic areas to be addressed by evidence reviews, and most of those reviews can be found here:
BCCDC hosted a webinar on June 5, 2014 to provide an update on the guidelines project as well as an overview of the British Columbia Asthma Medication Surveillance (BCAMS). The presentation slides (converted to PDF) are available for your reference.
Due to climate changes, BC is already experiencing an increase in average summer temperatures and number of extremely hot days. Though BC is historically considered more temperate than the rest of Canada, in 2009, over 100 premature deaths due to extreme heat over the course of a week were recorded in Vancouver alone. In order to ensure that municipalities and health authorities are prepared for the public health risks posed by extreme heat, the BC Centre for Disease Control assessed current perceptions and levels of preparedness of health authorities (HAs) and municipalities regarding extreme heat. The resulting documents are: