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Hazardous Air Closes Businesses, Clinics

BEND, OR -- As the Air Quality Index soared past 400 in some areas of Central Oregon on Monday, businesses with outdoor workers - like Sunriver’s SHARC - shutdown. Mosaic Medical also closed several Bend clinics. "Wildfire smoke has small particulate matter that can be an irritant on the lungs and it can cause people to have wheezing, cough, sore throat, headache," says Dr. Jessica LeBlanc, Mosaic's Chief Health Officer. 

She told KBND News Monday, "If you are, for instance, out in this air for 24 hours, it would be equivalent small particulate matter with smoking 15 cigarettes, with where our AQI is at right now." Dr. LeBlanc added, "It’s not tobacco, it’s wildfire smoke, but it still has that fine particulate that can cause irritation and damage to the lungs over time. So, those folks that have to work outside, please wear an N95. And, especially thinking about our unhoused population that can’t get indoors, seek sites where you can get indoors or use an N95."

The Air Quality Advisory for Crook and Deschutes Counties is extended to Wednesday. LeBlanc encourages everyone to take warnings seriously, "If you have to go outside, it’s really important to wear an approved mask, and ideally an N95 that will help with filtering that particulate. And, to stay indoors, as much as possible. If you have access to higher quality filters in your home, then that can help as well."

Deschutes County Public Health tells KBND News crews helped the Oregon Health Authority deliver large air filtration units known as "air scrubbers" to the Lighthouse Navigation Center for the homeless in Bend and to schools in La Pine. 

The Humane Society of Central Oregon says unhealthy air also applies to pets, wildlife and livestock. When possible, animals should be kept indoors during such conditions. 


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John Kruse
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