Wildfires in the Northwest have increased since the 1980s. Scientists attribute this to human-caused climate change. This means more bad air days from wildfire smoke in Multnomah County.
When wildfires burn, winds can push smoke into populated areas. Wildfire smoke is full of different pollutants, including particulate matter and carbon monoxide. We also see high ozone levels. Breathing in smoke can cause health problems, including respiratory problems and asthma, that can be especially unsafe for sensitive groups and healthy adults.
Check local air quality online or call 503-229-5696.
For air quality conditions and health guidance on-the-go, download the Smoke Sense App on your phone.
Know your risk:
These groups are at a higher risk from smoke exposure:
- Infants and children
- People with heart or lung conditions, such as asthma, COPD, or cardiovascular disease.
- Older adults
- Pregnant people
Follow your doctor’s recommendations and take extra steps to protect yourself. If you are not on this list, you should still avoid exposure to wildfire smoke. During smoke and wildfire events, everyone may experience burning or itching eyes, sore throat, nose irritation, and/or headaches. Smoke exposure may also have long term effects, especially for lung health.
Protect your health during a smoke event:
- Learn about the air. Listen, watch and look up information.
- Avoid smoky air and keep indoor air clean. Close doors and windows, set AC to recirculate, use an air cleaner with a HEPA filter, and/or go to a place with AC if it’s hot and smoky.
- Do not add to indoor air pollution. Do not use anything that burns, such as candles, incense, fireplaces, cigarettes or gas stoves. Avoid frying or broiling when cooking. Do not vacuum.
- Do not rely on masks or bandanas for protection. Not all masks are effective and can provide a false sense of protection. An “N95” respirator, properly worn, can offer some protection.
- Maintain healthy behaviors. Drink lots of water; Eat balanced meals; Exercise indoors; Don’t smoke; Listen to your body and contact a healthcare provider if you are experiencing symptoms of smoke irritation.
Prepare for a smoke event:
- Clean or replace air filters if you have AC or an air cleaner.
- Create a clean air shelter room in your house:
- Consider purchasing 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. Check the California Air Resources Board (CARB) certified air cleaners that produce little or no ozone; see their list at: http://www.arb.ca.gov/research/indoor/aircleaners/certified.htm
- Have supplies ready to build your own box fan filter: Watch this video (part 3).
- Learn about masks. Not all masks are effective and can provide a false sense of protection. An “N95” respirator, properly worn, will offer some protection. Watch this video.
- Have several day supply of groceries that don’t require cooking.
For Educators and Parents: Guidance for School Outdoor Activities
For Healthcare Providers: Oregon Health Authority's healthcare provider guidance
For Employers: contact Oregon OSHA for employer resources
Recommendations for Indoor Air Filtration
Frequently Asked Questions: Oregon Health Authority Wildfire Smoke and Your Health