Take precautions as air quality reaches unhealthy levels due to wildfire smoke

Tri-county public health officials are urging people to take precautions against exposure to wildfire smoke.

The National Weather Service is predicting weather that could bring prolonged wildfire smoke exposure to communities in the Portland area. Smoke levels can rise and fall depending on weather factors including wind direction.

“The combination of warm temperatures and wildfire smoke in the tri-county area may increase the risk of illness especially for older adults, young children and people with asthma, respiratory, or heart conditions,” says Dr. Paul Lewis, the Tri-County Health Officer for Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington Counties.

Public health officials urge all Oregonians to take the following precautions to avoid health problems during hot, smoky conditions:

  • Reduce the amount of time spent outdoors. This can usually provide some protection, especially in a tightly closed, air-conditioned house in which the air conditioner can be set to re-circulate air instead of bringing in outdoor air.
  • Reduce the amount of time engaged in vigorous outdoor physical activity. This can be an important and effective strategy to decrease exposure to inhaled air pollutants and minimize health risks during a smoke event.
  • Reduce other sources of indoor air pollution such as burning cigarettes and candles; using gas, propane, and wood burning stoves and furnaces; cooking; and vacuuming.
  • Individuals with heart disease or lung diseases such as asthma should follow their health care providers’ advice about prevention and treatment of symptoms.

For more information about your community’s air quality, visit http://airnow.gov/.

For air quality advisories from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, visit http://www.deq.state.or.us/aqi/index.aspx.

For the Vancouver, WA area visit http://www.swcleanair.org/airqualindex.html or http://www.swcleanair.org/airqualindex.html.