MEDFORD, Ore. — Officials with the Department of Environmental Quality say air quality this year has reached some of the worst points in decades, but they say making an exact comparison is a bit tricky.
Since the 70’s and 80’s, air quality measurements have changed to account for finer and finer particles. The chart above shows a standardized comparison of the air quality index in Medford during the Biscuit Fire in 2002 and this season.
Pollutant levels in 2002 capped at around 180 AQI. This year, we saw upwards of 300, nearly double the levels seen then.
“Most likely we’re going to get an F for air quality this year from the American Lung Association, but that is going to be specific to the wildfire event,” Byron Peterson with the Department of Environmental Quality stated.
Officials call this year an outlier, something the EPA does forgive when looking at national air quality compliance. On the other hand some groups, like the American Lung Association, do not.