MEDIA ALERT: American Lung Association Warns of Dangerous Health Effects from Poor Air Quality Surrounding Regional Wildfires; Provides Tips to Protect Your Lungs

Massive wildfires continue to burn throughout Oregon and Washington today, causing very unhealthy air quality in parts of the state. The American Lung Association in Oregon offers tips to protect health from the serious hazards that smoke poses to people living and working in surrounding areas. 

Exposure to wildfire smoke can cause serious health problems for anyone including asthma attacks, heart attacks and premature death. Most vulnerable to smoke exposure are children and teens, pregnant people, older adults and anyone with existing respiratory problems or heart disease. Residents with lung diseases such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and those with cardiovascular diseases should take extra precautions to reduce exposure to wildfire smoke during this time and call their healthcare provider immediately if new symptoms develop. 

The American Lung Association offers the following tips during and after Oregon and Washington wildfires:

  • Prepare to Evacuate if Needed. Those with chronic lung disease are encouraged to gather all of their medications, delivery devices, prescriptions and insurance cards in one spot so they can quickly be transported in the event of an evacuation. 
  • Stay inside as much as possible, with doors, windows and fireplace dampers shut – and clean air circulating through air conditioners and/or air cleaners. Residents should use the recirculation setting on their home air conditioners to avoid outdoor air contamination. Using whole house fans is not recommended because they can allow unfiltered outside air into the home.
  • Keep an Eye on Symptoms. Seek medical attention if experiencing wheezing, shortness of breath, difficulty taking a full breath, chest heaviness, lightheadedness and dizziness.
  • Close car windows and vents, when driving through smoky areas. Air conditioning should be set to recirculate to avoid exposure to outside air.
  • Avoid exercising outdoors, particularly if you smell smoke or experience eye or throat irritation.
  • For those returning to a fire-damaged home, limit exposure to ash by wearing, protective clothing, gloves, goggles, and a fitted N-95 mask, if available. NOTE: A dust mask is not sufficient to protect your health.
  • Check the air quality before attending outdoor events such as day camps, sporting events or festivals. If the air quality is poor, consider skipping the event and/or keeping your children and other vulnerable individuals inside. This is especially important for children since they are more susceptible than adults to the health impacts of air pollution.

More information on how wildfire smoke affects lung health is available at Call the American Lung Association Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNGUSA to speak with respiratory therapists and registered nurses regarding questions about lung health.

For more information, contact:

Jill Dale
[email protected]

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