Date: Sept. 18, 2020
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality extended an air quality advisory through Saturday for Northwest, Central, Eastern and some parts of Southern Oregon due to smoke from fires in Oregon and California.
Smoke is beginning to clear out of the I-5 corridor. Portland and Salem areas were still at the unhealthy levels Friday morning, but should continue to improve throughout the day. The Columbia River Gorge, Central Oregon and Eastern Oregon are still in unhealthy to hazardous levels, but should start clearing out Saturday morning. Some communities in Southern Oregon, including Cave Junction and Provolt, are getting smoke from the Slater Fire, and may remain in unhealthy or hazardous levels through Saturday or longer.
Areas nearby active fires may continue to have smoke impacts.
Health officials encourage people to open up windows and begin clearing out their indoor air once smoke levels have dropped into moderate (yellow) and good (green) categories.
Smoke levels can change rapidly depending on weather. Check current conditions by visiting the Oregon Smoke Information Blog, downloading the free OregonAIR app on your smartphone, or going to on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Now.
Smoke can irritate the eyes and lungs and worsen some medical conditions. Young children, adults over 65, pregnant women and people with heart disease, asthma or other respiratory conditions are most at risk.
Protect your health when smoke levels are high:
- Avoid outdoor activities and stay inside if possible. Keep windows and doors closed.
- Be aware of smoke in your area and avoid places with the highest levels.
- Use high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters. These can be portable filters or can be installed in indoor heating, ventilation, cooling and air purification systems. You can also create your own air purifying filter by following these easy DIY air filter instructions.
- Check with your local health department or this 211 list to see if they have community clean air shelters set up where people can get temporary relief from the smoke.
- If you have heart or lung disease or asthma, follow your healthcare provider’s advice.
Cloth, dust and surgical masks don’t protect from the harmful particles in smoke. N95 respirators that are tested to ensure proper fit and that are worn correctly may provide protection. Otherwise, they might just provide a false sense of security. They are not available in children’s sizes and are not recommended for strenuous activities. N95 respirators are in limited supply due to COVID-19. Additional information on wildfire smoke and COVID-19 can be found on the Centers for Disease Control webpage.
Emergency managers are discouraging travel to lessen the spread of COVID-19 while allowing firefighters and other emergency crews to remain focused on wildfire. Relief from wildfire smoke should be coming soon to most parts of Oregon.
DEQ’s color-coded Air Quality Index provides current air quality conditions and ranks air quality as follows: Green is good. Yellow is moderate. Orange is unhealthy for sensitive groups such as children, seniors, pregnant women and those with respiratory conditions. Red is unhealthy for everyone. Purple is very unhealthy for everyone. Maroon is hazardous.
** Información en español **
Several highways and roads are closed around Oregon. Check TripCheck for the latest information.
Find more information: Oregon Smoke Blog