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Air Quality In Central, Southern Oregon Suffering As Wildfires Burn

OPB | Aug. 28, 2012 5:54 a.m. | Bend, Oregon

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Smoke from wildfires is continuing to cause poor air quality in parts of Southern and Central Oregon.

Snow fields on Mt. Jefferson through wildfire smoke. -- InciWeb Photo

Snow fields on Mt. Jefferson through wildfire smoke. -- InciWeb Photo

According to the state Department of Environmental Quality, there’s enough smoke in the air in Klamath Falls to be considered unhealthy. In Enterprise, Lakeview, and Prineville the DEQ’s Air Quality Index ranks pollution levels as “moderate”.

William Knight is a spokesman for the DEQ.

He’s urging people to stay indoors when it’s smoky outside.

S-61 helicopter at Madras, OR -- InciWeb Photo

S-61 helicopter at Madras, OR -- InciWeb Photo

He says wildfire smoke is known to contain a host of cancer-causing agents that that can become lodged deep in the lungs if inhaled.

He explained, “So not only are there effects from the coarse particulates that people are breathing in that are very irritating to any sort of mucous membrane whether it’s your nose, your lungs, your eyes. But there also is the potential for longer term chronic effects from intense exposure.”

Knight says smoky places might get a reprieve as early as Wednesday. Weather forecasters are expecting shifting winds could drive smoke plumes to the south.

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