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OSU Study Warns Your Inside Air May Be Worse Than The Outside Air

Ashim D'Silva

We’ve covered the air quality index (AQI) – a lot this smoky summer.  But it turns out that closing windows and doors for lengthy periods may give you a false sense of safety, even during wildfire season.

Oregon State University’s studybased on 2018’s smoke event across the southern Willamette Valley showed high concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).  These are chemicals that are potentially carcinogenic, warned Kim Anderson, an environmental chemist with OSU.

”So even when we see AQI numbers like 150 for example, the indoor air for these classic compounds called PAHs, are higher than outdoors," Anderson told KLCC.  "Specifically AQIs oftentimes are really focused on particulate matter, but PAHs can exist both on the particulate, and they can be as a gas that we breathe.”

PAHs can come from cooking, burning candles, and using air fresheners.  Residents are encouraged to open their windows to replenish the air, or use filters if the outdoors are smoky.

Copyright 2021, KLCC.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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