Health Ministry extends mandatory wood burning restriction due to wildfire smoke air pollution

October 10, 2022

Monday, October 10, 2022

Media Contact: Ryan Yambra, [email protected]

Health Ministry extends mandatory wood burning restriction due to wildfire smoke air pollution

Forecasts call for continued wildfire smoke and poor air quality through Friday; Multnomah County is requiring people to refrain from burning wood until the advisory is lifted.

Smoke from wildfires from across the Pacific Northwest entered the Portland metro area over the weekend, leading health officials to extend a mandatory wood burning restriction for residents of Multnomah County today, Monday, October 10. This restriction does not apply to the kitchen. Exemptions are available for people in emergency situations.

Today, the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) also issued an air quality advisory for continued smoke in the Portland metro area. Conditions are expected to vary with intermittent smoke trapped in our area through Friday.

Health officials will monitor the situation with county partners. The air quality burning restriction will be lifted when conditions improve. Burning restrictions are posted at multco.us/woodsmokestatus. It is the second wood burning restriction this month – also known as Red Day – and the seventh since the extension of the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners the county’s wood smoke abatement ordinance all year in February 2022.

As air quality has deteriorated over the past few days, the Multnomah County Health Department issued voluntary burn advisories on October 7-8 and a mandatory burn restriction on October 9. Today, October 10, most of Multnomah County is in the moderate (yellow) and unhealthy air quality index (AQI) categories for sensitive groups (orange).

Protect your health and reduce indoor pollution by turning on your air cleaner or learning how to build one. Visit multco.us/wildfiresmoke to learn more.

People at risk

Those most at risk of complications from smoke exposure are pregnant women, children, people with pre-existing heart disease, people with chronic lung disease, and the elderly.

People who work outdoors are also at high risk. Employers should visit Oregon OSHA to requirements and recommendations to protect the health of employees.

what should you do

Keep windows and doors closed (weather permitting). If it’s too hot inside, seek cooler indoor air.

  • If you spend time outdoors, avoid strenuous outdoor exercise.
  • If available, set AC to recirculate air, use an air purifier with a HEPA filter, or build your own air purifier.
  • Listen to your body and watch for any symptoms of smoke exposure.
  • Keep an eye on the air quality near you (links to air quality maps below or on our website.)

When the air quality improves and reaches the yellow or green Air Quality Index level, even temporarily, ventilate your home to reduce indoor air pollution. People living in homes where it is too hot to stay indoors with the windows closed or who are at risk of smoke-related health effects should seek shelter elsewhere.

Know the Symptoms

The most reported wildfire smoke symptoms include scratchy throat, itchy or watery eyes, stuffy nose, sinus irritation, coughing, difficulty breathing, and fatigue or dizziness.

Mild symptoms of smoke exposure often include:

  • Cough
  • Headache
  • burning eyes
  • Sore throat
  • Production of phlegm
  • Changes in breathing

Dry cough, sore throat and difficulty breathing are common to both wildfire smoke exposure and COVID-19. Contact your doctor if you think you have symptoms of COVID-19.

But exposure to smoke can also cause severe and life-threatening respiratory distress, including heart attacks and strokes. If you are in distress, you should immediately dial 9-1-1.

Measure air quality

To find air quality information, visit:

  • Oregon Smoke Blog: Local, state, tribal and federal organizations are coordinating to share information about wildfires and smoke.
  • Oregon Air Quality Map: The state Department of Environmental Quality maintains a current air quality map. Due to high traffic, the site may slow down or crash. The sites below offer good alternatives.
  • EPA Air Quality Map: The US Environmental Protection Agency pulls real-time air quality data from the states of Oregon and Washington.
  • Oregon State Fire Map: The Oregon Office of Emergency Management is updating a map of active fires, air quality and closures.

Visibility

If you can’t access AQI information, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality shares this Visibility index 5-3-1 to help estimate smoke levels:

  • Five miles: Air quality is generally good.
  • Three to five miles: Air quality is unhealthy for young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with heart or lung disease, asthma, or other respiratory conditions.
  • Less than three miles: the air quality is unhealthy for everyone.
  • Less than a mile: the air quality is unhealthy for everyone.

Your body

Healthy people affected by smoke may have only mild symptoms. But healthy people can also have underlying health conditions that put them at risk. Listen to your body’s signals:

If your eyes are burning, if you have a sore throat, if your lungs are struggling to expand, if you are coughing, stay indoors and focus on creating a “clean room” where the air is as clean as possible.

Wood burning offenses

To report a suspected violation of a mandatory burning restriction and smoke from a recreational fire, contact Multnomah County Environmental Health:

Stay informed of wood burning restrictions:

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