Oregon Smoke Information

Map Notes:

The map above shows active fires and air quality monitors around the state. Round icons represent permanent air quality monitors, triangular icons represent temporary smoke monitors (when deployed).

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

News Release: DEQ upgrades Air Quality Index to improve reliability

Some exciting news from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. Check out the news release below and remember to download the Air Quality Index mobile app and to bookmark the webpage before wildfire season.

Statewide, OR – A tool that Oregonians use to gauge air quality conditions where they live, work and play – one that many Oregonians see as critical during wildfire season -- has gotten a major overhaul.

Upgrades to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s Air Quality Index, a color-coded tool that reports how clean the air is at over 37 monitors around the state and provides information on potential health risks, make the system more reliable. The new index also puts more data at users’ fingertips allowing them to view weather data, generate reports using historical data and more.

A mobile app is also now available for smart phones. Simply search for OregonAir in your app store.

“The index is a valuable tool for the public year round and it is particularly useful during wildfires that create large amounts of smoke – as we all saw last year,”  said Brian Boling, DEQ’s Laboratory and Environmental Assessment Division Manager.

“Last year almost half a million visitors used the Air Quality Index,” Boling said, noting the system was last upgraded five years ago. “We know those users rely on the information the index provides when they are making plans to be outdoors, particularly during the summer, and we want to make sure this information is easy to access that’s why we’re so glad to add a mobile app this year.”

During the 2017 wildfire season, DEQ’s Air Quality Index saw record web traffic. All of the top five most-viewed pages on DEQ’s website in 2017 were about air quality accounting for almost 1.3 million page views. The Air Quality Index briefly crashed a number of times in August and September 2017 because of heavy traffic. (Oregon air quality information was also available on EPA’s AirNow website and on the Oregon Smoke Blog, and in Lane County on the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency.)

In addition to being more reliable, the new Air Quality Index will have additional features:
o   Meteorological data
o   Downloadable historical data
o   Modernized web interface
o   Tools available to analyze data
o   Lane Regional Air Protection Agency data

The new software used for the Air Quality Index also reconciles differences between DEQ’s Air Quality Index and EPA’s AirNow site that could result in users seeing slightly different readings on the two sites.

Information, including video tutorials and a link to the new Air Quality Index, can be found at http://www.oregon.gov/deq/aq/Pages/aqi.aspx

Oregon’s index is based on three pollutants regulated by the federal Clean Air Act: ground-level ozone, particle pollution and nitrogen dioxide.

Air pollution can be a particular concern to the elderly, children and those with respiratory conditions, but high levels of pollution can affect everyone. The higher the value on the Air Quality Index, the greater the level of air pollution and the greater the health concern. For example, a value of 50 or below represents good air quality with little potential to affect even those with respiratory conditions, while a value over 300 represents hazardous air quality and is likely to affect even healthy individuals.

Katherine Benenati, DEQ, 541-686-7997, benenati.katherine@deq.state.or.us

Friday, May 4, 2018

Thinking Ahead: Preparing for Wildfire Season

Tomorrow is National Wildfire Community Preparedness Day and wildfire season is right around the corner so we're taking this opportunity to remind you about the importance or preparation and to share some resources you can bookmark for wildfire season:

Check out this wildfire safety checklist from the American Red Cross and these tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how to protect yourself from wildfire smoke.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality's Air Quality Index provides current air quality conditions at more than 30 monitors around the state. The AQI is a color-coded tool that allows you to gauge how healthy the air is at specific sites and what, if any, health precautions you should take.
Wildfire smoke can be a particular concern to the elderly, children and those with respiratory conditions, but high levels of pollution can affect everyone.

The Oregon Health Authority has some great resources on how you can stay healthy during wildfire season including these frequently asked questions on wildfire smoke and your health.

Some of their advice includes:
  • Pay attention to local air quality reports. 
  • Refer to visibility guides if they are available. 
  • If you are advised to stay indoors, keep indoor air as clean as possible.
We know last year was a tough wildfire season in Oregon and that dealing with long periods of smoke is exhausting. We'll be sharing more information as the wildfire season draws nearer and will share forecasts, advisories and more during the season. So if you haven't already, go ahead and bookmark this site too.