Burning and smoke
|DEQ Home > Air Quality > Burning > your health|
Wildfires and air quality
Wildfires are unpredictable and can quickly send smoke into Oregon communities. This page includes tools to help you track wildfire smoke in your area, along with information about the health risks associated with elevated smoke levels.
Wildfire Reponse Protocol - June 2013
In response to the 2012 wildfire season, DEQ participated in a task force to review roles
and duties of state and federal agencies in Oregon that respond to wildfires. The task force
was specifically concerned about the public health risk from severe smoke impacts. It produced
Oregon Wildfire Response Protocol for Severe Smoke Episodes presented here. The protocol
describes the role of each agency during severe wildfire smoke events, and how agencies can
better work together to increase safety and protect public health. The protocol also lists
resources to track wildfire activity and air quality. It reviews the current evidence regarding
the health effects of wildfire smoke. It also suggests possible interventions to protect
the public based on the intensity and expected duration of smoke exposure. The protocol is
provided as a guide for response to major wildfires. It is not intended to limit any action
taken by a public agency in the course of performing its official duties.
Assessing smoke levels near you
Wildfire smoke and your health
Smoke is made up of primarily small particles, gases and water vapor, with trace amounts of hazardous air pollutants. The most harmful are the small particles, or particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter (100 micrometers is the diameter of a human hair). These particles can be inhaled deeply into the lungs, damaging lung tissue and causing respiratory and cardiovascular problems.
Wildfire can be a significant source of air pollution in Oregon and can pose a major health risk. Symptoms from short-term smoke exposure can range from scratchy throat, cough, irritated sinuses, headaches, runny nose and stinging eyes. Persons with asthma, emphysema, congestive heart disease and other existing medical conditions can have more serious reactions. The elderly and children are also high-risk groups
For more information about Air Quality call 503-229-5359 or email.