How did the air taste last week? If you thought things seemed a little dusty around Burns Lake, you can rest assured that it wasn’t your imagination.
The B.C. Ministry of Environment issued an air quality road-dust advisory for Houston, Burns Lake and Smithers. High concentrations of dust were expected to persist until the weekend, but the dust didn’t settle as the advisory was extended on the weekend to include Terrace, Quesnel and Prince George.
In Burns Lake, the concentration of coarse particles in the air was almost double the provincial air quality standard.
The poor air quality was the result of traffic stirring up ‘winter traction materials’ that have become exposed on the highways due to recent early thaws.
Road dust advisories are not unusual this time of the year, reports Greg Tamblyn, of the Ministry of Environment (MOE) in Smithers B.C.
“Early in the spring, before snow has melted from the roads, it is difficult to control road dust,” Tamblyn said. “Due to safety concerns, road maintenance operators must wait until winter conditions have ended before sweeping roads. However, the MOE works with local communities and highways maintenance contractors to ensure that roads are swept and cleaned as early as possible each year.”
The air quality advisory recommends that you avoid busy roads, use only CSA/EPA emissions approved wood-burning stoves and finally, avoid backyard burning of materials.
A large slash pile was being burned on Saturday afternoon on the southside of the Gerow Island bridge. It was a breezy afternoon which carried the smoke to some where down the road. By Sunday, the advisory had been lifted for Burns Lake.