Smoke levels can quickly rise and fall depending on weather factors that include wind direction and how much smoke is produced from the wildfire. Therefore, people need to be observant of the air quality during wildfire season.
Wildfire smoke is a complex mixture of air pollutants that are harmful to human health. Exposure to air pollutants in wildfire smoke can irritate the lungs, cause inflammation, alter immune function, and increase susceptibility to respiratory infections.
Populations known to be vulnerable to wildfire smoke exposures include:
- Children less than 18 years;
- Adults age 65 years or older;
- Pregnant women;
- People with chronic health conditions such as heart or lung disease, including asthma and diabetes;
- Outdoor workers;
- People of low socioeconomic status, including those who are homeless and with limited access to medical care.
- People who have had COVID-19 and are recovering from the virus.
During a wildfire smoke event, Jackson County Public Health Officials advise people to take the following precautions:
- Be aware of smoke concentrations in your area and avoid the places with the highest concentrations.
- Avoid strenuous outdoor activity in smoky conditions.
- Stay indoors with doors and windows closed. This reduces exposure to particulate matter in the air.
- Use air conditioning to keep your home cool if it becomes too warm.
- Other sources of particles within the home should be reduced or eliminated: smoking, using gas, wood‐burning stoves or furnaces, aerosol sprays, frying or broiling meat, burning candles or incense, vacuuming.
- High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters and Electro-static precipitator (ESP) filters can help provide protection. The HEPA filters trap or remove harmful particles in the air.
- When riding in a car, keep the windows and vents closed; turn the air conditioning on to recirculate.
- Drink lots of water - staying hydrated can keep your airways moist, which will help reduce symptoms of respiratory irritation such as scratchy throat, running nose, and coughing.
- People exposed to smoky conditions and who suffer from asthma or other respiratory problems should follow their breathing management plans or contact their healthcare.
- People who must be outdoors may be considering the use of masks to help protect their lungs from wildfire smoke. Types of masks that can filter out smoke particles are N95, P100, and some KN95. Read more about these types of masks and how to properly wear them. Statement from Oregon OSHA and OHA on N95, KN95 and P100 masks.
Check DEQ’s Air Quality Index (AQI) to see real-time air monitoring data from monitors placed around Oregon https://oraqi.deq.state.or.us/home/map. DEQ also has a mobile app for the AQI, search for OregonAir in your app store. Keep in mind that monitoring locations are limited, pollution levels may be higher in some areas, and wildfire smoke levels can rise and fall rapidly.