Wildfires in Oregon
Oregon Smoke Information Blog
Get current local air quality information from Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and learn if there is a health advisory in your community.
Health Threats from Wildfire Smoke
Smoke from wildfires is a mixture of gases and fine particles from burning trees and other plant materials. Smoke can hurt your eyes, irritate your respiratory system, and worsen chronic heart and lung diseases.
Know if you are at risk
- If you have heart or lung disease, such as congestive heart failure, angina, COPD, emphysema or asthma, you are at higher risk of having health problems from smoke.
- Older adults are more likely to be affected by smoke, possibly because they are more likely to have heart or lung diseases than younger people.
- Children are more likely to be affected by health threats from smoke because their airways are still developing and because they breathe more air per pound of body weight than adults. Children also are more likely to be active outdoors.
Recommendations for people with chronic diseases
- Have an adequate supply of medication (more than five days).
- If you have asthma, make sure you have a written asthma management plan.
- If you have heart disease, check with your health care providers about precautions to take during smoke events.
- If you plan to use a portable air cleaner, select a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter or an electro-static precipitator (ESP). Buy one that matches the room size specified by the manufacturer.
- Call your health care provider if your condition gets worse when you are exposed to smoke.
Recommendations for everyone: Limit your exposure to smoke
Pay attention to local air quality reports.
Listen and watch for news or health warnings about smoke. Find out if your community provides reports about the Environmental Protection Agency's Air Quality Index (AQI). Also pay attention to public health messages about taking additional safety measures.
Refer to visibility guides if they are available.
Not every community has a monitor that measures the amount of particles that are in the air. In the Western part of the United States, some communities have guidelines to help people estimate the Air Quality Index (AQI) based on how far they can see.
If you are advised to stay indoors, keep indoor air as clean as possible.
Keep windows and doors closed unless it is extremely hot outside. Run an air conditioner if you have one, but keep the fresh air intake closed and the filter clean to prevent outdoor smoke from getting inside. Running a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter or an electro-static precipitator (ESP) can also help you keep your indoor air clean. If you do not have an air conditioner and it is too warm to stay inside with the windows closed, seek shelter elsewhere.
Avoid adding to indoor pollution.
When smoke levels are high, do not use anything that burns, such as candles, fireplaces, or gas stoves. Do not vacuum, because vacuuming stirs up particles already inside your home. Do not smoke, because smoking puts even more pollution into the air.
If you must go outdoors, NIOSH-approved respirators may offer some protection.
Paper "comfort" or "dust" masks commonly found at hardware stores are designed to trap large particles, such as sawdust. These masks will not protect your lungs from smoke.
There are specialized masks that can help prevent smoke exposure called particulate respirators. If you choose to wear a respirator, select a particulate respirator marked with the word "NIOSH". If it has an "N", "R" or "P" along with the number 95, 99 or 100 printed on it, it is appropriate to use. Users should select a respirator that fits well to ensure a protective seal around the face. For the most protection, learn how to put one on, properly position it on your face and how to remove it. It is important to know that these are not currently made in children's sizes. People with pre-existing health conditions should speak with their health care provider prior to using a respirator. The wearer may find breathing more difficult, particularly for those with heart and lung conditions.
Oregon OSHA offers how-to videos in
Fact Sheets and FAQs
Is your air quality hazardous to your health?
Fact Sheet: Hazy, smoky air: Do you know what to do?
Frequently Asked Questions: Wildfire Smoke and Your Health
Fact Sheet: Air Cleaner
Do It Yourself (DIY) Air Filter
Pregnancy and children
Information from CDC
Threatened by Wildfire? Learn about Evacuation Levels
Key Resources to Help You Stay Safe While Evacuated from Wildfires
What to Take During an Evacuation - People with Special Heath Care Needs
Had to Evacuate from a Disaster? Getting Emergency Refills from a Pharmacy
Public health guidance for school outdoor activities during wildfire events
For more information, schools should contact their local health department.
Statement from OSHA and OHA on N95, KN95 and P100 Masks- Guidance is under revision and temporarily unavailable. We will repost links to the new guidance after it is complete.
for more employer resources.
For public health, health care and providers
See Also: Clean Air at Home