American Lung Association report gives Medford an ‘F’ for air quality

SOUTHERN OREGON, —The American Lung Association released its 2022 state of the air report Thursday. It gave Medford an F.

The American Lung Association’s report covers 2018 to 2020. It says particle pollution remains the prominent pollutant in the Rogue Valley, largely due to severe wildfires. The American Lung Association has put out its annual report for the last 23 years. It looks at the two most common pollutants, ozone pollution and particle pollution.

“How many harmful poor air quality air quality days we have in our counties and then assigns grades,” said Carrie Nyssen with the American Lung Association.

Based on data from EPA air monitors, the southern Oregon area received an F grade, according to the report. It’s a weighted average, that looks at how hazardous each day is by looking at the air quality index. You can see in its data that unhealthy air quality has increased in recent years.

“In reviewing the data for the Medford area 2018 was a really horrific wildfire season, we really had the largest impact where we had extremely hazardous days in 2020.” said Nyssen.

Harry Esteve with Oregon’s DEQ says air quality depends on a variety of conditions like weather, geography, and topography.

“Southern Oregon and southeast Oregon are some of the hardest hit by the drought that’s what leads to wildfires and that’s what leads to smoke,” said Esteve.

During a wildfire, the smoke carries small particles made up of a mixture of different materials. What makes this particle pollution so dangerous, is its microscopic size.

“These particles can exacerbate asthma attacks they can make it difficult for people with COPD or other respiratory diseases, people with cardiac issues, people with diabetes anyone with a chronic illness is more vulnerable to these particles,” said Nyssen.

There is some good news, there are things you can do to protect yourself. The American Lung Association recommends people with lung disease talk to their doctor to find out what they can do for fire season. The experts say you should install high-grade filters to remove the dangerous air particles, check the air quality daily, and adjust your plans accordingly.

You can view the full report at lung.oreg/sota

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Jenna King is the 6pm and 11pm anchor for NBC5 News. Jenna is a Burbank, CA native. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in Sports Business. During her time at Oregon she was part of the student-run television station, Duck TV. She also grew her passion for sports through her internship with the PAC 12 Network. When Jenna is not in the newsroom you can find her rooting for her hometown Dodgers, exploring the outdoors or binging on the latest Netflix release.
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