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: 154878

Reported Deaths: 2206
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah31824528
Washington21099212
Marion18373285
Clackamas13328175
Lane10200126
Jackson8315111
Umatilla763982
Deschutes593459
Yamhill376764
Linn357756
Malheur334458
Polk303942
Klamath278455
Douglas244754
Josephine232849
Benton232516
Jefferson195128
Coos144019
Union128119
Columbia124821
Wasco122026
Lincoln112820
Hood River106429
Morrow104614
Clatsop7756
Crook77518
Baker6507
Curry4246
Tillamook4142
Lake3746
Harney2736
Grant2221
Wallowa1424
Gilliam531
Sherman530
Wheeler221
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3559311

Reported Deaths: 51794
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles118923221241
Riverside2894503767
San Bernardino2860772783
Orange2607213982
San Diego2589823260
Santa Clara1102371777
Kern102627811
Fresno950151422
Sacramento929611464
Alameda802791241
Ventura77395834
San Joaquin665691082
Contra Costa62164674
Stanislaus55887946
Tulare47784746
Monterey42138327
San Mateo38872515
San Francisco34138398
Santa Barbara31763407
Solano30024164
Merced28915395
Sonoma28004298
Imperial26855589
Kings21951218
Placer19763232
San Luis Obispo19612227
Madera15414209
Santa Cruz14588183
Marin13136197
Yolo12787185
Shasta10969174
Butte10922160
El Dorado9095100
Napa899869
Sutter884597
San Benito575259
Yuba573336
Lassen560119
Tehama508152
Tuolumne394659
Nevada394074
Mendocino379643
Amador344841
Humboldt318033
Lake314140
Glenn221923
Colusa212813
Calaveras190547
Siskiyou174014
Inyo128736
Mono12114
Del Norte9875
Plumas6536
Modoc4524
Mariposa3957
Trinity3675
Sierra990
Alpine810
Unassigned00
Medford
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Brookings
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