Most cities in BC’s Southern Interior have winter traction material on their roads right now, but only Vernon has an air quality advisory in place because of that.
Tarek Ayache, an air quality meteorologist from BC’s Environment Ministry, says one reason for dust issues is the topography around Vernon with the narrow valley making it harder for the dust to be dispersed.
“The air movement tends to be more constrained than other locations so that would lead to the dust in the air accumulated longer than in cases where it’s more open,” says Ayache.
Ayache says another element to consider is the location of the monitor.
“The monitor that we have is at the Vernon Science Centre so it’s near the major roads, namely the highway, so it’s considered to be a closer source to the source of dust,” Ayache tells CJIB News.
Ayache says the current levels are at the high end of the scale for Vernon.
He says street sweeping –which is now underway in most areas — is one way to get rid of the problem, along with a change in the weather like rain.
“It’s due to the fact you have all the road traction material being applied in the winter, and then come the spring, the roads are clear of snow and you have all the dust still on the roads. With all the traffic activity, it just stirs up the dust.”