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Oregon Air Quality Remains 'Unhealthy' Sunday

This weekend will be a good time to catch a movie or head to a museum. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality reports air quality is unhealthy in cities across the Willamette Valley and many are considered unhealthy.

Akram Khan, an associate professor at the Oregon Health and Science University, said there are three people who are more sensitive to air quality: Children, people over the age of 65 and anyone with an underlying lung disease or with allergies that get worse when exposed to dust. However, with the smoke in the air, Khan said everyone should be on high alert.

“Everyone may start to experience some health effects,” he said.

Khan said public health websites provide good insight for people in highly smoky areas to avoid breathing problems or other issues:

  • Reduce the amount of time spent outdoors and make sure to close all windows.
  • When driving, recirculate the air in the car.
  • Avoid any strenuous outdoor activity.
  • If you have heart disease, asthma or other lung disease, or are over 65 years of age, you have a higher risk of illness from wildfire smoke. Small children and pregnant women are also at increased risk. People in any of these groups might consider leaving the area until air quality improves.
  • People suffering from asthma or other respiratory problems should follow their breathing management plans or contact their healthcare providers.

Carol Connolly with the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center said the smoke is from the Washington wildfires, which are being pushed down the Cascades, funneling down the Gorge, and into the Portland metro area. The air quality is expected to remain at unhealthy levels for the next couple of days.

“Everybody should be using common sense,” said Khan. “If you are suddenly are getting short of breath (while sitting or walking through your house), that would be the time to call.”

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