Air Quality Public Health Warning 9/9/2020

Information provided by Clatsop County Public Health



This morning Clatsop County Public health reached out to the National Weather Service to inquire about the smoke forecast for the coming days.  Forecasters indicated that the current East winds we have been experiencing will shift overnight to the South East.  This direction will bring the heaviest smoke from the current large wildfires, directly into Clatsop County.  The winds will continue to shift till they are onshore (west). At that point the smoke that has already worked its way offshore for the last two days will return, potentially impacting Oregon and Clatsop County a second time.


Public Health Warning:

Public Health is warning all residents to expect significantly poor air quality lasting into this weekend. Please prepare yourselves to respond to hazardous conditions.  Communities on the central coast currently experiencing these levels of smoke have Air Quality Index (AQI) values exceeding the Hazardous level. This air quality could cause serious health impacts for all people.


Public Health Impacts:

Patients with chronic respiratory conditions such as COPD, asthma, emphysema as well as cardiac disease may experience exacerbations when affected by wildfire smoke.



  • Stay indoors with windows and doors closed and any gaps in the building envelope sealed. Avoid strenuous activity.
  • If available and if needed for comfort, run an air-conditioner on the “recirculate” setting. Be sure to change the filter at appropriate intervals. Other types of room or central air filtration systems may help remove airborne particles, but they need to be selected to adequately filter the area in which they serve. Some electronic air cleaners and ozone generating “filters” can generate dangerous amounts of ozone indoors (see the Wildfire Smoke – A Guide for Public Health Officials resource). These ozone filtration systems do not remove harmful contaminants from the air and are not recommended.
  • Never operate gasoline powered generators indoors – they produce dangerous carbon monoxide. Avoid smoking, using wood stoves, and other activities that add to indoor air contamination.
  • If there is a period of improved air quality, open up (air out) the house and clean to remove dust particles that have accumulated inside.
  • Humidifiers or breathing through a wet washcloth may be useful in dry climates to keep mucous membranes moist, although this does nothing to prevent inhalation of contaminants.
  • When riding in a car, keep the windows and vents closed. If comfort requires air circulation, turn the air-conditioning on “re-circulate” to reduce the amount of outside air drawn into the car.
  • Patients with asthma, heart disease, and others considered at high risk from health effects from contaminant inhalation should be moved to an adequate “clean air” shelter, which may be in their home, in the home of a friend or relative, or in a publicly-provided “clean air” shelter.
  • Have at least 1 week of any respiratory medications on hand.
  • Have back up oxygen tanks on hand if you relay on an oxygen concentrator, in case the power goes out.





  • Stay indoors with windows and doors closed and any gaps in the building envelope sealed. Consider using your basement if one is available.
  • Avoid exercise or strenuous activity.
  • Employers engaged in strenuous outdoor work should consider light duty projects if possible.


Use of Masks:

Paint, dust, and surgical masks are not effective obstacles to inhalation of the fine airborne particles generated by wildfires. For information on use of respiratory protection for adults see “Wildfire Smoke – A Guide for Public Health Officials.”  KN-95 and N-95 masks provide better filtration of particles as long as they are fitted.

The above is an excerpt from: Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units Fact Sheet for Health Professionals.


Other Resources:

CDC: symptoms of wild fire smoke and self care steps:


CDC: wildfire smoke and COVID 19 questions and answers:


CDC: How to create a clean air space in your home:


Effects for kids:


OHA wildfire preparedness:


Oregon Smoke Blog:


Oregon Satellite Imagery: