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Wildfire Smoke Continues To Pose A Health Risk in Southwest Oregon

OPB | July 31, 2013 12:21 p.m. | Updated: July 20, 2014 10:09 a.m.

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Smoke from wildfires continues to pose a health risk in Southwest Oregon.   The state Department of Environmental Quality rates the air from Crater Lake to Cave Junction in the “unhealthy” to “very unhealthy” range.

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The smoke was so bad in Ashland last night that the Oregon Shakespeare Festival had to cancel its outdoor performance of the Bard’s Cymbeline.  Communication manager, Amy Richard says that’s the first time the festival has ever canceled a show because of smoke.

Brian Finneran is a senior air quality specialist with the DEQ.

He says wildfire smoke contains toxins and fine particulate matter.  That can cause respiratory problems and worsen existing conditions like asthma.  Finneran says the very young and the very old tend to be more susceptible.

“Closing windows not going outdoors is one option.  And if necessary, maybe having to leave the area to get out of very heavy smoke,” said Finneran.

Finneran says the public can get up-to-date information at oregonsmoke.blogspot.com.  He says the “Oregon Smoke Blog” is a collaboration of state, local and federal agencies and a one-stop shop for wildfire smoke information. 

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