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Air in Central and Southern Oregon unhealthy for sensitive groups due to wildfire smoke yesterday and this morning

News Release: Aug. 28, 2014

DEQ provides tools people can use to determine air quality conditions during smoke events

Air quality in and around Klamath Falls deteriorated Wednesday night and in Bend Thursday morning and is unhealthy for sensitive groups, including those with asthma and other respiratory conditions.

People with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly and children, are advised to stay indoors. Poor air quality conditions are a health threat and should be avoided by all residents in smoky communities. Remember, local smoke levels can rise and fall rapidly depending on weather factors, including wind direction.

How healthy is the air in your community? Check DEQ’s Air Quality Index to see real-time air monitoring data from monitors placed around Oregon.

On the west side of the Cascades, the air quality index reached the “unhealthy” range in Oakridge yesterday for the first time this year. The Deception Creek Complex fire near Oakridge also caused the Eugene/Springfield area to reach the “moderate” range. Visit the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency website for updates on smoke levels in Lane County.

During wildfire smoke events, DEQ urges residents to take the following precautions:

• Be aware of smoke concentrations in your area and avoid the places with highest concentrations.

• Avoid smoke either by leaving the area or protecting yourself by staying indoors, and by closing windows and doors.

• Avoid strenuous outdoor activity in smoky conditions.

• People exposed to smoky conditions and who suffer from asthma or other respiratory problems should follow their breathing management plans or contact their healthcare providers.

What if your community doesn’t have an air quality monitor? Monitoring locations are limited and pollution levels may be higher in some areas, especially those closer to a wildfire.

Conduct a visual assessment: People can conduct a visual assessment of nearby smoke to quickly get a sense of air quality levels. Generally, if you can see up to 15 miles, the air quality is probably good. If you can see less than one mile, the air quality is very unhealthy and everyone should avoid outdoor activities. Refer to the descriptions below for more information based on how far you can see in various conditions:

Between 5-15 miles: Air quality is moderate and beginning to deteriorate, and is generally healthy, except possibly for smoke sensitive persons. The general public should avoid prolonged exposure if conditions are smoky to the point where visibility is closer to the 5 mile range.

If under 5 miles: The air quality is unhealthy for young children, adults over age 65, pregnant women, and people with heart and/or lung disease, asthma or other respiratory illness. These people should minimize outdoor activity.

If under 3 miles: The air quality is unhealthy for everyone. Young children, adults over age 65, pregnant women, and people with heart and/or lung disease, asthma or other respiratory illness should avoid all outdoor activities.

If under 1 mile: The air quality is very unhealthy, and in some cases may be hazardous. Everyone should avoid all outdoor activities.

For more information on using the visibility index during wildfires, visit

For more information on smoke and wildfires in Oregon, visit


Larry Calkins, DEQ Air Quality Program, Bend, 503-752-9374

Tom Kuhn, Deschutes County Health, Bend, 541-322-7410

William Knight, DEQ Communications, Salem, 503-757-1889