Where there’s smoke….

Oregon is feeling the devastation of California’s fires this November, and our friends and neighbors will need our help to recover. We’re also likely to feel the smoke here in Oregon.

(See NY Times: How To Help Those Affected by the California Fires).

The jet stream can carry smoke and particles from Western fires all the way across the country, according to NASA. When weather pulls that smoke out of jet stream and down to breathing levels, it can harm health hundreds of miles away from the fire. We’re grateful for doctors, nurses and caregivers who help people cope with the health effects of smoke.

Check air quality alerts at airnow.gov

Lung and airway irritation, which can feel like a sinus infection, also increases the chance of catching a cold or flu. The tiny particles from wood smoke and traffic also raise risk of heart attack, stroke, cancer and other harm. The latest studies also show that even low levels of exposure, day after day, can raise health risks. It’s worth paying attention to unhealthy air quality warnings.

So: what can you do?

It’s probably not a surprise that traffic is ordinarily the biggest consistent source of particle pollution.

On bad air days—and every day—you can do your part by reducing your car trips and driving smart.

It may surprise you to know that after traffic, domestic fuel burning outweighs industry as the next biggest source of air pollution and in some areas of the state it’s the main source.  Wood burning stoves and fireplaces contribute to bad air on cold, still days—and the indoor pollution can be even worse than outdoors.

Learn more about cleaner stoves and fireplaces, as well as types of wood you should never burn.

Indoor particle pollution comes from fireplaces and wood stoves, but also candles and incense. Other household products also contribute to harmful gases—and in some cases can actually effect outdoor air, too.

Learn more about indoor air quality, and what you can do.

What else is being done?

As the Oregon firefighters working in California show us: we’re all in this together.  And there are some problems that an individual just can’t solve on their own. That’s where Oregon Environmental Council comes in. We’re working to:

  • Retire the oldest, dirtiest diesel engines as soon as possible.
  • Clean up our transportation fuels and vehicles.
  • Ensure strong federal and state air quality standards.
  • Ensure that the agencies enacting air quality programs have resources they need.
  • Create a statewide climate program to stem climate change—which contributes to worsening wild fires in a variety of ways.

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