The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s air quality advisory has been extended through Saturday for most areas of the state due to smoke from the devastating wildfires in Oregon and California.
Although smoke is beginning to clear out of the I-5 corridor, Portland and Salem areas were still at unhealthy levels Friday morning. They are expected to continue to improve throughout the day. Areas nearby active fires may continue to have smoke impacts.
Smoke levels can change rapidly depending on weather. Check current conditions by visiting the Oregon Smoke Information blog, downloading the free OregonAIR app on your smartphone, or going to on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s AirNow.
Smoke can irritate the eyes and lungs and worsen some medical conditions. Young children, adults over 65, pregnant women and people with heart disease, asthma or other respiratory conditions are most at risk.
DEQ’s color-coded Air Quality Index provides current air quality conditions and ranks air quality as follows: Green is good. Yellow is moderate. Orange is unhealthy for sensitive groups such as children, seniors, pregnant women and those with respiratory conditions. Red is unhealthy for everyone. Purple is very unhealthy for everyone. Maroon is hazardous.
Health officials encourage people to open up windows and begin clearing out their indoor air once smoke levels have dropped into moderate (yellow) and good (green) categories.
Protect your health when smoke levels are high:
– Avoid outdoor activities and stay inside if possible. Keep windows and doors closed.
– Use high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters. These can be portable filters or can be installed in indoor heating, ventilation, cooling and air purification systems. You can also make your own.
– Check with your local health department or this 211 list to see if they have community clean air shelters set up where people can get temporary relief from the smoke.
– If you have heart or lung disease or asthma, follow your healthcare provider’s advice.
– Consider leaving the area if smoke levels are hazardous and you have heart disease, asthma or other respiratory conditions. Otherwise, please wait to be directed to evacuate. Pay attention to evacuation notices.
– Cloth, dust and surgical masks don’t protect from the harmful particles in smoke. N95 respirators that are tested to ensure proper fit and that are worn correctly may provide protection. Otherwise, they might just provide a false sense of security. They are not available in children’s sizes and are not recommended for strenuous activities.
Emergency managers are discouraging travel to lessen the spread of Covid-19 while allowing firefighters and other emergency crews to remain focused on wildfire. Relief from wildfire smoke should be coming soon to most parts of Oregon.