Fires Spark Air Quality Concerns

, Posted: Mon, July 9 2012 at 6:27 PM, Updated: Mon, July 9 2012 at 6:54 PM

Right now current ozone levels in    Southern Oregon are at 29. That's a good reading. But you might have noticed a murky look to the skies caused by hotter weather.  Plus fire season is now upon us and that means those levels can go up in an instant.

You might have woke up this morning, went outside and thought, "Boy it's hot." Then looked up at the sky and thought "...and it's hazy."

Department of Environmental Quality expert John Becker says despite the murky skies and recent fires -- ozone levels are safe at this time.  While he says summer generally brings better air quality, fires pose a threat. "When we have wildfires, if they get away from them that can really change it."

Over the weekend, hot weather and dry conditions really ignited this years fire season.

"Prior to Sunday it was a slow fire season start, but it took off yesterday." says Chief Dave Bierwiler. He also says that the heat and smoke pollution can be harmful to many - particularly the very young, asmatic, and elderly."If you have elderly people in your life, make sure your checking on them on a regular basis."

But he does say there are many things you should do to make your home fire resistant. Tips include not leaving wood piles against your home, make it accessible, and trimming overhanging trees.

So for now, Becker says not to worry - today's hazy skies are due to a recent lack of rain. "In the summer time we see a little elevated levels in ozone because of sunlight and activities people do on a regular basis and it builds up until the next weather system move through."
Waiting for the next bit of rain, before a fire strikes.

If you would like to keep track of air quality conditions in our area you can do so at http://www.oregondeq.com/aqi/aqiStationsMedford.aspx

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