The majority of air pollution contained in wildfire smoke is from fine particles of matter. These are also referred to as PM 2.5. Because they are so small, PM 2.5 can travel deeply into the lungs and be absorbed into the body, causing health problems.
Larger particles are also present in smoke. These are called PM10, and can cause irritation. However, PM 10 are trapped in the lungs and can usually be coughed out.
Smoke from burning structures – such as homes, cars, and gas stations – contains harmful gases and toxic chemicals as well as fine particles.
Prescribed fire also omits PM 2.5 smoke, but is normally much smaller amounts for smaller amounts of time.
Smoke can affect everyone. But some people may be more sensitive. This can include:
Children under 18
Adults 65 and older
People with chronic conditions such as asthma, heart or lung disease, or diabetes
People who don’t have health care or stable housing
Watery or dry eyes
Persistent cough, phlegm, wheeze, scratchy throat or irritated sinuses
Shortness of breath
Asthma attack or lung irritation
Irregular heartbeat, chest pain
During wildfire season, smoke can come from fires that are in Oregon or farther away (link to Wildfire page).
In Spring, Fall or Winter, smoke may come from planned activities like pile burning or prescribed burns. Go to https://www.centraloregonfire.org/ to learn about wildfires and other activities that may lead to smoke in Central Oregon.
View some Public Safety videos:
Find out How-to-Make a Box Fan Air Filter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qr1Aj6Di7w
Create a Clean Room in your home: https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/create-clean-room-protect-indoor-air-quality-during-wildfire