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Oregon residents urged to take steps to prevent exposure to smoke

Photo of smokey skies over Portland

Above: Smoke from area wildfires over Portland, Oregon.

Oregon residents urged to take steps to prevent exposure to smoke

OHA offers tips to reduce health risks as wildfires affect many parts of state

As wildfires continue to affect many parts of the state—including most recently the Columbia River Gorge—the Oregon Health Authority is encouraging people to take steps to protect themselves from smoky air.

Poor air quality due to wildfires can cause health problems for people with chronic lung or heart conditions, the elderly, and children. Fine particles in smoke also can affect people suffering from asthma and other respiratory conditions.

“People should be aware of smoke levels in their area and avoid the places with highest concentrations,” said Ann Thomas, MD, public health physician at the OHA Public Health Division. High temperatures can also increase levels of ozone, a pollutant that can irritate the lungs.

OHA offers the following smoke-prevention tips:

  • Residents can check the current local air quality conditions on DEQ’s website. Avoid outdoor activities when air quality is unhealthy and hazardous.
  • Avoid smoke either by leaving the area or by staying indoors, closing as many windows and doors as possible without letting your home overheat, and using a filter in your heating/cooling system that removes very fine particulate matter.
  • Avoid strenuous outdoor activity in smoky conditions. Those with heart or lung problems, as well as young children, are especially vulnerable.
  • People suffering from asthma or other respiratory problems should follow their breathing management plans or contact their health care providers.
  • For quick tips on how to protect yourself from the health effects of wildfire smoke and ash, watch this video. 

For guidance on how to protect student athletes and when to move outdoor activities indoors, watch this video.

For more information about wildfires and smoke, visit http://www.healthoregon.org/wildfires.