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‘Very unhealthy’: Oregon DEQ issues new air quality advisory for smoky High Desert, lasting through Tuesday PM

The 'Put Your Smokey Hat On' public awareness campaign has a bit of a different meaning on another smoky Monday morning in Bend
Marsha Gladhart
The 'Put Your Smokey Hat On' public awareness campaign has a bit of a different meaning on another smoky Monday morning in Bend

(Update: Adding new photo, Monday AQI readings)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and Lane Regional Air Protection Agency issued an air quality advisory Sunday for Central Oregon and other areas of the state due to smoke from fires in Oregon, eastern Washington and Canada.

The areas include:

  • Multnomah County through Monday afternoon.
  • Most of Central Oregon and the Gorge through Tuesday afternoon, including Crook, Deschutes, Douglas, Gilliam, Hood River, Jackson, Jefferson, Josephine, Klamath, eastern Lane, Morrow, Sherman, Umatilla, Wasco and Wheeler counties.

Air quality indexes around the High Desert at midday Monday, based on the E::Space monitors map on our Local Alert Weather page, ranged from "Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups" to "Unhealthy" and "Very Unhealthy."

DEQ and partner agencies will continue to monitor smoke in the area.

DEQ said it also expects intermittent smoke in Salem, the Willamette Valley, and La Grande. Air quality may improve Sunday night or Monday morning.

Smoke levels can change rapidly, depending on weather. Check current conditions on the Oregon Smoke Information Blog, DEQ’s Air Quality Index, or by downloading the free OregonAIR app on your smartphone. 

Smoke can irritate the eyes and lungs and worsen some medical conditions. People most at risk include infants and young children, people with heart or lung disease, older adults and pregnant people.

Protect yourself and your family when smoke levels are high: 

  • Stay inside if possible. Keep windows and doors closed. If it’s too hot, run air conditioning on recirculate or consider moving to a cooler location.
  • Avoid strenuous outdoor activity.
  • Use high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters in indoor ventilation systems or portable air purifiers. Or create your own air purifying filter by following these instructions.
  • Be aware of smoke in your area and avoid places with the highest levels. 
  • When air quality improves to moderate or healthy (yellow or green on the Air Quality Index), open windows and doors to air out homes and businesses.
  • If you have a breathing plan for a medical condition, be sure to follow it and keep any needed medications refilled.

Cloth, dust and surgical masks don’t protect from the harmful particles in smoke. N95 or P100 respirators approved by NIOSH may offer protection, but they must be properly selected and worn. Select a NIOSH-approved respirator with a N, R or P alongside the number 95, 99 or 100. Learn how to put on and use a respirator. Respirators won’t work for children as they don’t come in children’s sizes. People with heart or lung conditions should consult their health care provider before wearing a respirator.

Additional resources:

Article Topic Follows: Central Oregon

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