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Initiative provides air purifiers to vulnerable Oakridge and Westfir residents

OakridgeHwy58_BBull.jpg
Brian Bull
/
KLCC
Smoke obscures traffic traveling on Highway 58 on the east side of Oakridge, Oct. 4, 2022.

An initiative enabled by Oregon Senate Bill 762 will help some Oakridge and Westfir residents breathe easier.

Oakridge_Air_Sign_BBull.jpg
Brian Bull
/
KLCC
Outside the Oakridge Air offices on the eastern side of town.

The Oakridge area has recurring issues with clean air. Summer wildfires often blanket the region with smoke, while winter wood-burning prolongs the problem.

Sarah Altemus-Pope is program manager of Oakridge Air. It’s partnered with Oregon Health Authority to distribute air purifiers for locals on Medicare or Medicaid.

“I don’t want to put a cap on it but as long as we’re being inundated with smoke, we’re confident we can meet the need,” she told KLCC.

AirPurifier_BBull.jpg
Brian Bull
/
@2022, KLCC.
An air purifier unit at Oakridge Air's office.

Besides people with sensitive respiratory or cardiac conditions, Altemus-Pope added that they’re also working to protect children.

“We’ve partnered with OHA and Department of Human Services to get large air scrubbers to the school districts, because when the children are in school, they’re in buildings that can trap smoke in throughout the days,” said Altemus-Pope. “And then some small individual room purifiers, to keep the air pure in the school.”

Oakridge and Westfir residents can inquire at Oakridge Air’s website or office between 8-11am on weekdays to see about procuring their own purifier.

@2022, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ 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 (19 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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