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Smoke from Oregon and Northern California fires causes unhealthy air quality

Smoke rises from the Middle Fork Complex Fire on Sept. 6, 2021.
Middle Fork Complex Fire/Inciweb
Smoke rises from the Middle Fork Complex Fire on Sept. 6, 2021.

Smoke from fires burning in Oregon and Northern California has large areas of Oregon under air quality advisories. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency issued an air quality advisory Tuesday for Central Oregon and Southern Oregon, as well as for parts of the Oregon Cascades and Eastern Oregon.

Baker, Crook, Deschutes, Grant, Harney, Jackson, Jefferson, Josephine, Klamath, Lake and Malheur counties, as well as eastern portions of Douglas, Lane, Linn and Marion counties, are under an advisory until at least Thursday afternoon.

Smoke can irritate the eyes and lungs and worsen some medical conditions. People most at risk include infants and young children, people with heart or lung disease, older adults and pregnant women.

People under advisory for unhealthy air conditions should stay inside if possible with windows and doors closed, and they should avoid strenuous outdoor activity. The use of high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters in indoor ventilation systems or portable air purifiers can help air quality inside. Health officials warn that cloth, dust and surgical masks cannot filter harmful particles in smoke.

The state Department of Environmental Quality warns that smoke levels can change rapidly depending on weather conditions. Daily smoke forecasts are available from the US Interagency Wildland Fire Air Quality Response Program. These forecasts estimate what times of day smoke might be better or worse in those areas. Current conditions can also be accessed on the Oregon Smoke Information Blog, the state’s Air Quality Index, or by downloading the free OregonAIR app on your smartphone.

To find cleaner air space in your area visit 211info.org, click “Find Resources” and search in the Community Resource Database for “Wildfire Related Clean Air Shelters,” or call 211.

Copyright 2021 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Alex Hasenstab