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Concerns of breathing in wildfire smoke

Wild fire smoke is still lingering around Southern Oregon and northern California. The Jackson County Medical Director says breathing this smoke in can have immediate and long term affects.

Posted: Sep 19, 2020 7:19 PM
Updated: Sep 19, 2020 9:00 PM

TALENT, Ore.--- Wildfire smoke is still lingering around Southern Oregon and Northern California.

Many people are ready to go back to the evacuated areas, but the Communications Manager for Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Harry Esteve said it might take longer than some people would like.

“These are pretty unpresidented. The amount of fire damage, the number of homes burned and structure burned is just something Oregon hasn’t seen," Esteve said. "I don’t really have an answer on the timeline. I know people want to get started quickly. I think we’ll know more in the next few days.”

He said the DEQ is working with federal government agencies. These agencies are helping assess the environmental risks and debris removal as well as funding. In the meantime, he suggests people stay away from areas affected by the fires.

"Right now, and this is not the greatest message but, our message is to be patient," Esteve said. "It's pretty dangerous to go back to these burn structure and to disturb the material there because its very likely it has hazardous substance there, partially asbestos."

Harry said there can also be other dangerous chemicals in the air from metals being burned. The Jackson County Medical Director Jim Shames said these chemicals are not a big concern as long as people folloe evacuation orders. Dr. Shames said the big concern is the amount of people displaced and forced to breathe in wildfire smoke.

"This much exposure to toxic air is really bad for your immediate health and can be bad for your longterm health,” Dr. Shames said. 

He said the dust and particles are so small it can make its way into a person's blood stream and this can irritate the heart. Dr. Shames encourages everyone to wear either an N95 or KN95 mask.

"It is a reversal of our message, fortunately we are in a position now we can offer these new masks," Dr. Shames said. "These masks are excellent to wear for Covid as well."

Dr. Shames said he recommends people to buy one and keep it for future use as well. He also said they are trying to disperse masks to areas such as the Jackson County Expo Center.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 348766

Reported Deaths: 4161
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah54797689
Washington37988313
Marion36055444
Clackamas29094304
Lane26966298
Jackson22632300
Deschutes19577123
Umatilla14241144
Linn12380120
Douglas11795240
Josephine9233195
Yamhill8517110
Klamath7709110
Polk715380
Malheur551574
Benton529130
Coos489691
Columbia371343
Jefferson361450
Union313146
Lincoln310638
Wasco281540
Crook274745
Clatsop239529
Baker198028
Tillamook193328
Hood River188337
Morrow181623
Curry178122
Harney108424
Grant97612
Lake89011
Wallowa67012
Gilliam1484
Sherman1463
Wheeler991
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 4810222

Reported Deaths: 70598
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles147569426398
Riverside3693444990
San Diego3636444159
San Bernardino3563155566
Orange3227415518
Sacramento1576212279
Santa Clara1445181890
Kern1441461605
Fresno1441232051
Alameda1198871372
San Joaquin1018071708
Ventura1005241164
Contra Costa99234982
Stanislaus851571315
Tulare78945951
San Francisco54031645
San Mateo53828622
Monterey50696582
Solano45761334
Santa Barbara44836521
Merced41781577
Sonoma40711402
Placer38902415
Imperial35642764
Kings32369314
San Luis Obispo29653329
Madera23518281
Butte23364260
Shasta23360334
Santa Cruz20861218
Yolo20147247
Marin17581243
El Dorado16960149
Sutter13775169
Napa12808100
Yuba994282
Tehama9298104
Humboldt9102108
Nevada903990
Mendocino752786
Lassen746346
San Benito737372
Tuolumne673993
Lake6506104
Amador537264
Siskiyou442742
Glenn430330
Calaveras381780
Del Norte356141
Colusa301718
Inyo196739
Mono16445
Plumas15756
Mariposa127315
Trinity86011
Modoc6698
Unassigned1860
Sierra1760
Alpine1020
Out of CA00
Medford
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Brookings
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Crater Lake
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Staying dry and sunny today, rain and mountain snow arrives Sunday
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