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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Oregon Measure 49 and the Department of Envirnomental Quality pollution advisory

The future of the Williamette Valley (and other parts of Oregon) can be read in the pollution advisory issued today by the Department of Environmental Quality.

The advisory urges older adults and younger children throughout the entire Williamette Valley to limit their outdoor activities for a period that may last into next week (Happy Halloween).

Measure 37 would launch the state down the path of ever-diminishing air quality as wide-open development vastly expands particulate sources in Oregon’s vital agricultural areas.

The key point I want to make here is that farmers (and future farmers) have to be outdoors regardless of pollution advisories in order to work their land.

The DEQ advisory reads:

“According to the National Weather Service in Portland, the area is experiencing light winds and dry, cold air in combination with low overnight temperatures. These weather conditions create inversions that keep fine particles* from wood smoke and vehicle exhaust trapped at ground level, particularly during the evening and early morning hours. These microscopic particles can be inhaled deeply into lungs and damage delicate lung tissues.

“Higher than usual pollution levels may cause health problems for sensitive individuals. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), people with heart or lung disease, older adults and children are at greatest risk from particulate pollution and should consider restricting their outdoor activities beginning early in the evening and through mid-morning until the weather changes. People with asthma or other breathing problems or heart conditions should follow their health care provider’s advice for taking care of themselves.

“DEQ expects to see highest levels of pollution in the evening when people are using wood stoves. These higher levels typically persist into the early morning hours.

“This type of wintertime air pollution comes mainly from wood smoke. Diesel engines, cars and trucks are also sources. To protect the health of those who are more sensitive to air pollution, DEQ is asking citizens in the affected areas to avoid using fireplaces and woodstoves unless absolutely necessary, refrain from outdoor burning, and limit driving and vehicle idling. The advisory will be in effect until stagnant weather conditions change.

“If burning wood is your only source of heat, burn hot fires using dry wood to lessen pollution.”
*Fine particulate air pollution consists of solid particles or liquid droplets that are less than 10 microns in diameter (PM10) or less than 2.5 microns in diameter (PM2.5). Particles in these size ranges are of great concern because they can be inhaled deeply into the lungs where they can remain for years. The health effects of particulate matter vary with the size, concentration, and chemical composition of the particles.

For more information about smoke pollution, visit the DEQ Web site at: http://www.deq.state.or.us/aq/burning/woodstoves/index.htm.

To see current pollution levels in Oregon, visit the DEQ Web site at http://www.deq.state.or.us/aqi/index.aspx.

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