New report reveals Medford suffered 41 days of elevated air pollution in 2020

MEDFORD, Ore. —Smoke in the skies, a new report reveals Medford suffered higher air pollution days in 2020. The new research is coming from Environment Oregon, Frontier Group, and the OSPIRG Foundation.

“Even one day of breathing in polluted air is dangerous for our health,” said Sophie Goodwin-Rice with OSPIRG.

A new report, called “Trouble in the Air” found that the Medford area suffered through 41 days of elevated air pollution in 2020.

“41 days or 11% of the whole year is unacceptable, and we need to do more to deliver clean air for our communities,” said Goodwin-Rice.

Researchers say the report looks at the most recent data available, focusing on ground-level ozone and fine particulate pollution. Those are harmful pollutants that come from burning fossil fuels, like coal, diesel, gasoline, methane gas, and wildfires.

“As a citizen, as a climate activist, it’s been really disappointing to see the smoke blanket our valley,” said a concerned Ashland resident.

But the report shows bad air isn’t just in the Rogue Valley. Klamath falls had over 100 days of bad air quality last year. Researchers also found that with the pandemic in full swing last year, people stayed home and drove their gas-powered vehicles less, but the bad air quality still persisted.

OSPIRG hopes the report it did with Environment Oregon and the Frontier Group leads policy leaders to look at the results and take action.

“Our leaders can enact policies to electrifying our buildings, equipment, and transportation as well as transition to clean renewable energy,” said Goodwin-Rice.

Oregon State Senator Jeff Golden represents much of the Rogue Valley. He says Senate Bill 762 passed this session and can help. The bill forms a local wildfire programs advisory council to monitor and provide input on investments and planning. Golden says it also helps communities affected by smoke.

“When it comes to air quality, we have a couple of particular provisions that we are establishing in communities which are clean air shelters for people with compromised respiratory systems,” said Senator Golden.

While Golden points to climate legislation at the state and federal level as providing some help, there appears to be nothing stopping the smoke-filled summers, that Rogue Valley residents are becoming all too familiar with, each year.

You can view the report here.

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Jenna King is the 6pm anchor and our Feature Reporter at 10pm and 11pm 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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