August 26, 2023
Health Department issues mandatory wood burning restriction due to air pollution from wildfire smoke
Effective at today at noon, Multnomah County ordinance echoes County Fire Defense Board’s burn ban and requires people to refrain from burning wood until advisory is lifted.
While most of Multnomah County is currently in the moderate Air Quality Index (AQI) category, air quality conditions are expected to worsen in the evenings when smoke mixes into the lower atmosphere due to air stagnation. With little cooling relief, residents may decide to open their doors and windows, which can expose their household to elevated levels of particulate matter.
Air quality may reach AQI levels of Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups (orange) and Unhealthy for all (red) in some areas of East Multnomah County, Southeast Portland, Gresham, Troutdale, and Wood Village. Residents are urged to protect our community’s health and reduce pollution. Residents should also check air quality before opening doors/windows and adjust/limit outdoor activities to protect their health.
What is air pollution?
People at risk
People at the greatest risk of complications from smoke exposure include pregnant women, children, people with pre-existing heart disease, people with chronic lung disease, and older individuals.
People who work outdoors are also at elevated risk. For those who must work, wear a properly fitted N95-rated mask and take breaks inside a structure or even in your car.
What you should do
Stay inside with windows and doors closed (if temperatures allow). If it is too hot indoors, seek cooler indoor air.
Avoid spending time outside, and avoid strenuous exercise outdoors.
If available, set AC to recirculate , use an air cleaner with a HEPA filter, or build your own DIY air cleaner.
Avoid being on the roads if visibility worsens.
Keep an eye on air quality near you:
When air quality improves (yellow or green AQI), even temporarily, air out your home to reduce indoor air pollution. People in homes that are too warm to stay inside with the windows closed, or who are at-risk of smoke-related health effects, should seek shelter elsewhere.
Know the symptoms
The symptoms of wildfire smoke most reported include scratchy throat, stinging or watery eyes, stuffy nose, sinus irritation, coughing, trouble breathing, and tiredness or dizziness.
Mild symptoms of smoke exposure often include:
Changes in breathing
Dry cough, sore throat, and difficulty breathing are common to both wildfire smoke exposure and COVID-19. Contact your doctor if you believe you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
But smoke exposure can also cause serious and life-threatening respiratory distress, including heart attacks and strokes. If you’re in distress, you should immediately dial 9-1-1.
Gauging air quality
Wildfires and smoke have swept the West Coast. Some air quality monitors may have lost power. Air quality web systems may periodically get overwhelmed by traffic, causing web-based maps to slow or fail to load. To find air quality information visit:
Oregon Smoke Blog: Local, state, tribal and federal organizations coordinate to share information about wildfires and smoke.
Oregon Air Quality map: The state Department of Environmental Quality updates a map of current air quality. Due to high traffic, the site can slow or crash. The sites below offer good alternatives.
EPA Air Quality map: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency pulls real-time air quality data from Oregon and Washington States.
State of Oregon Fires Map: The Oregon Office of Emergency Management updates a map of active fires, air quality and closures.
Five miles: air quality is generally good.
Three to five miles: air quality is unhealthy for young children, older adults, pregnant women, and people with heart or lung disease, asthma or other respiratory illness.
Less than three miles: air quality is unhealthy for everyone.
Less than one mile: the air quality is unhealthy for everyone.
Healthy people affected by smoke may have only mild symptoms. But healthy people may also have underlying health conditions that put them at risk. Listen to your body’s cues:
If your eyes are burning, if your throat is sore, if your lungs are having a hard time expanding, if you are coughing, stay inside and focus on creating a “Clean Room” where the air is as clean as possible.
Wood Burning Violations
To report a fire and get it extinguished, call 911. To report a suspected violation of a mandatory burn restriction and smoke from a recreational fire, contact Multnomah County Environmental Health:
Stay Informed of wood burning restrictions: