Wildfires create poor air quality across Northwest - KPTV - FOX 12

Wildfires create poor air quality across NW

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

As crews struggle to contain dozens of wildfires burning across the state, stagnant conditions have allowed smoke from those fires to hover over much of the Northwest.

"I thought about wearing a mask to bike to work today," said cyclist Gretchan Nichols. "We bike 20 miles per hour and breathe hard during that time. You can get a lot of pollutants in the lungs."

Local hospitals say they've already noticed an increase in patients having trouble breathing because of the pollutants in the air.

Particularly in young kids, and children prone to asthma.

"I have a couple colleagues who said some patients were sick enough that they needed to go to the intensive care unit," said Emergency Physician Dr. Nikolas Jones of Randall Children's Hospital at Legacy Emanuel. "There's no question that air quality is not optimal right now in Portland."

The DEQ says the effects of breathing in air with pollutants from wildfires can be harmful and long lasting, because they can be inhaled deep into the lungs and lodge there for weeks.

If you're thinking about enjoying the outdoors this week, doctors say to make sure you're taking the necessary precautions.

"The most important thing to do is to reduce the exposure to what could harm your lungs," said Jones.

Jones says trouble breathing is not something you should take lightly. If you are concerned you should see a doctor, and if it's an extreme case you should call 911.

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