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Smoke affecting air quality

 

August 13, 2015



Concentrations of wildfire smoke affecting Lane County air quality

 

Smoke levels have elevated air quality warnings to the moderate range for several days now in the Eugene, Springfield, Cottage Grove, and Oakridge areas. Heavier smoke levels could push the air quality index (AQI) into the “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups (USG)” level or even up to “Unhealthy.”

The Lane Regional Air Protection Agency (LRAPA) is closely monitoring the ground-level air quality in Lane County and tracking wildfire smoke coming from Chambers Mill (Lorane), Stouts Creek (Douglas County), and other Southern Oregon and Northern Californian fires. Changing wind conditions could bring some temporary relief but with increased wildfire dangers, smoky conditions are expected to continue for a couple days.

“We would like to warn all residents in Lane County to be aware of smoke levels in their area,” said Jo Niehaus, a spokesperson for LRAPA. “Seniors, children, and people who have heart or lung diseases are at greater risk to be affected by smoke. Strenuous outdoor activities should be avoided until the smoke clears. If you feel any health impacts that are smoke related, please consult with your doctors.”

Wildfire smoke contains Particulate Matter (PM) pollutants that contain gases and fine particles from burning plant material. Right now, the wildfire smoke levels are at the yellow color on the air quality index, where it reads at the “moderate” level. At this level, air quality is considered acceptable. However, it can be a health concern for a small percentage of the population who are unusually sensitive to air pollution. If smoke levels worsen and increase to the “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups (USG)” level, the air quality index will appear orange. The general public is not likely to be affected but members of sensitive groups may experience health effects.

LRAPA will monitor the smoke situation and provide updates as needed. The public can track hourly particulate levels by logging onto the LRAPA website at http://www.LRAPA.org or on twitter @LaneRegionalAir.

 

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