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Wildfire smoke has brought Oregon record-poor air quality, DEQ reports

Bend smoke
KTVZ
Wildfire smoke as encountered Monday by drivers in southeast Bend

PORTLAND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Oregon is experiencing record-poor air quality from wildfire smoke across the state, according to analysis released Tuesday by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency.

Oregon air reached unhealthy or hazardous levels across the state last week on the Air Quality Index (AQI)—which categorizes how clean the air is and lists associated health risks. Dense smoke is expected to remain throughout most of Oregon until at least Thursday.

DEQ and LRAPA compared recent and historical Air Quality Index information for Portland, Eugene, Bend, Medford and Klamath Falls. The AQI ranks air quality on a progressive five-step scale: goodmoderateunhealthyvery unhealthy or hazardous.

Preliminary analysis shows:

  • Record highs: All five cities exceeded previous daily records for poor air quality during wildfire season. Southern Oregon has previously seen extended periods of unhealthy and very unhealthy air quality, but Medford and Klamath Falls have also set records this year. All previous records were set in September 2017.
  • Hazardous days: Other than Medford, no city has previously experienced a hazardous air quality day since DEQ began monitoring. Medford had one day of hazardous air quality in both 2017 and 1987. Last week, Eugene had five hazardous days, Bend and Medford had three, Portland had two, and Klamath Falls had one.
  • Very unhealthy days: While Eugene, Bend, Medford and Klamath Falls have experienced very unhealthy days in previous years, Portland has never had a very unhealthy day. Last week, Portland had two very unhealthy days.

Find more information, graphics, and data on DEQ's Air, Land & Water blog.

Article Topic Follows: Oregon-Northwest

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