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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.

Confirmed Cases: 40136

Reported Deaths: 633
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah8689154
Marion5547106
Washington542972
Umatilla327643
Clackamas297065
Lane217026
Malheur185834
Jackson15196
Deschutes106513
Yamhill95115
Linn75814
Polk63715
Jefferson5979
Morrow5426
Lincoln50813
Union4562
Benton4196
Klamath4013
Wasco33415
Douglas3244
Hood River2691
Josephine2573
Columbia2471
Clatsop2350
Coos2250
Baker1122
Crook862
Tillamook690
Curry561
Wallowa402
Lake350
Sherman180
Harney150
Gilliam110
Grant100
Wheeler10
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 883746

Reported Deaths: 17055
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles2900096912
Riverside646681273
San Bernardino606211028
Orange573731412
San Diego53000857
Kern33497410
Fresno30152430
Sacramento24582471
Santa Clara23458382
Alameda22807433
San Joaquin21196484
Contra Costa18214236
Stanislaus17354393
Tulare17206276
Ventura13930160
Imperial12534335
San Francisco11937133
Monterey1111783
San Mateo10889157
Santa Barbara9641119
Merced9375152
Sonoma9016134
Kings817383
Solano717174
Marin7030127
Madera492073
San Luis Obispo404932
Placer401255
Yolo308656
Butte302651
Santa Cruz272223
Napa189214
Sutter181912
Shasta178629
San Benito140714
El Dorado12904
Yuba127810
Mendocino110421
Tehama7938
Lassen7571
Lake67315
Glenn6423
Nevada5908
Humboldt5589
Colusa5476
Calaveras33317
Amador31316
Tuolumne2554
Inyo21815
Siskiyou1850
Del Norte1751
Mono1752
Mariposa782
Plumas540
Modoc270
Trinity230
Sierra60
Alpine30
Unassigned00
Medford
Clear
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Hi: 69° Lo: 35°
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Brookings
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Crater Lake
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Grants Pass
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Klamath Falls
Clear
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Feels Like: 62°
Partly cloudy and cooler Wednesday
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