Rogue Valley makes list of most year-round air pollution

Rogue Valley — Medford to Grants Pass is listed as of one of the top 25 U.S. Metropolitan areas with the most year-round air pollution.

That’s according to the American Lung Association’s 2017 State of the Air report.

According to Executive Director Dr. Jim Shames with Jackson County Public Health, the air quality in the Rogue Valley has its bad days but it’s much better than it used to be.

“We live in a valley. And so stagnate air can settle in a valley,” Dr. Jim Shames said.

According to the 2017 State of the Air report from the American Lung Association, Medford to Grants Pass is ranked as number 11 in top 25 U.S. metropolitan areas with the most year-round air pollution.

Executive Director Dr. Jim Shames with Jackson County Public Health says it’s been a problem in the Rogue Valley for quite a while.

“Really tiny particles – what’s called PM2.5 – they don’t get trapped in the nose and they don’t get trapped in the throat… they go all the way down to the small airways,” Shames said.

He says during times of a forest fire the air quality gets worse putting those suffering from asthma, heart disease or lung disease at risk.

“It can cause people’s asthma to flare up. Babies… young children… those with delicate lungs who are still growing are also at risk,” Shames said.

But while the Rogue Valley may have its bad days, many believe it’s much better than the past.

Medford resident Dan Reece has grown up in the Rogue Valley.

He says air pollution used to be so bad, he couldn’t see the roads while driving.

“I used to hang my head out the door just to see the lines on the road the fog was so thick,” Reece said.

Now, he’s outside watching his son play baseball and enjoying the outdoors.

Shames says when the air quality is particularly bad, you should wear a mask or avoid going outside.

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