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Kelowna's air quality is worse than Hong Kong's today

It doesn't take an air quality expert to look out the window today and realize the Central Okanagan's air quality is not at its typical standard.

Okanagan residents can blame the 150 wildfires currently burning around the province for the thick haze of smoke lingering in the valley.

According to the World Air Quality Index Project, which displays real-time air quality data from 70+ countries around the globe, Kelowna's air quality today is so dismal that residents of famously polluted cities like Hong Kong and Los Angeles are breathing better air than Okanagan locals.

The site’s current Air Quality Index, which ranges from 0 to 300+, ranks Kelowna's haze squarely as “Unhealthy” right now.

</who> Kelowna's air quality on Aug. 9th (Left) versus Hong Kong's's air quality on Aug. 9th

</who> Kelowna's air quality on Aug. 9th (Left) versus L.A.'s air quality on Aug. 9th

The accuracy and amount of data they receive depends on the country providing the figures, and how many stations are set up in a particular location.

But there is plenty of data out there for large, and average sized metropolitan areas, and it doesn’t look good for Kelowna.

<who> Photo Credit: KelownaNow

According to Dr. Chris Carlsten, director of the Air Pollution Exposure Laboratory at the University of British Columbia, the air quality is terrible, but not to be worried about.

"The levels that Kelowna is experiencing right now are legitimately bad, right up there with Hong Kong, Beijing, and Los Angeles, but the key thing is that it's short term," explained Dr. Carlsten.

"Although this situation is lasting much longer than usual, it's still very short term in comparison to places in Asia because they have had air quality issues for well over a decade that are not going away."

Environment Canada is predicting coastal winds to move into B.C. by the weekend, which will hopefully push some of the lingering smoke out of the valley.

For now, Dr. Carlsten suggests avoiding strenuous outdoor activity and staying indoors as much as possible for those with respiratory problems.

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