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Air quality in Umatilla County may reach unhealthy levels over the weekend

Contact Information:
George Murdock, Interim Director, (541) 278-5432
Sharon Waldern, Clinic Supervisor, (541) 278-5432

For Immediate Release
Date: 8-08-14
Time: 4:00 p.m.

Umatilla County - Umatilla County Health Department is urging people to take precautions as air quality levels may reach potentially unhealthy levels this weekend. Forecasts are predicting weather that could bring wildfire smoke from the Rowena Fire to communities in the Pendleton and Hermiston areas. Smoke levels can rise and fall depending on weather factors, including wind direction.

“Wildfire smoke from several different fires in Oregon and Washington may increase the risk of illness especially for older adults, young children, and people with asthma, respiratory, or heart conditions,” said Sharon Waldern, UCHD Clinic Supervisor. “We encourage people to monitor air quality conditions while planning weekend activities.”

What the public can do to protect themselves from harmful wildfire smoke:

Commissioner Murdock urges county residents to take the following precautions to avoid health problems if hot, smoky conditions affect our area:
  • Be aware of smoke concentrations in your area. Residents can get the latest information by visiting the Oregon Smoke blog: or call 2-1-1 Info.
  • Avoid outdoor activities when air quality is unhealthy and hazardous. Those with heart or lung problems, as well as young children, are especially vulnerable.
  • Avoid smoke either by leaving the area or protecting yourself by staying indoors and closing all windows and doors.
  • Reduce other sources of indoor air pollution such as burning cigarettes and candles, using gas, propane, wood burning stoves and furnaces, cooking, and vacuuming.
  • Individuals with heart disease or lung diseases such as asthma should follow their health care provider’s advice about prevention and treatment of symptoms.
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.

“Our Preparedness Coordinator is monitoring the Air Quality Index daily,” said Sharon Waldern, “and our air quality has been good, according to the DEQ web site”

Conduct a visual assessment: People can conduct a visual assessment of nearby conditions 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.

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