C. Oregon's smoky air quality poses health risks

Affecting people's (and pets) lungs, eyes and more

Central Oregon air quality poses...

BEND, Ore. - Step outside in Central Oregon right now, and you'll be hit with the unmistakable smell of wildfire. Then you'll see your visibility is limited, but maybe not before your eyes start to water.

All this smoke is very dangerous for people with asthma, but it also not good for people with healthy lungs to go outside for too long.

"Because the fires are so close, I just don't think anybody should be out," pulmonary Dr. Rod Elliott-Mullens said Wednesday. "I just don't think it's safe for anybody doing any exercise outside."

A good rule of thumb to remember: If you can't see more than a half-mile down the road, it's too smoky to be outside for a long time.

You may notice some people with bandanas or scarves covering their faces, but while these block out the big particles, it doesn't block the most dangerous ones.

"The real problem is not what you see, it's what you don't see," Elliott-Mullens said. "The smaller, microscopic particles that are actually in the air. The smoke, the white stuff that you see, that is a very much finer dust.

Wildfire smoke can also affect your eyes, causing irritation, burning and tearing.

People out walking their dogs say it seems to affect them more.

"They've just been kind of laying around," Bend resident Katie Curtis said. "We haven't really done anything. We walked barely half a mile, and she's panting. So it definitely has an effect on their energy levels."

On Wednesday, the DEQ's air quality index in Bend was rated as "unhealthy". Madras is was well, as it's still getting smoke from the Nena Springs Fire. And Sisters, closest to the Milli Fire, was the worst in terms of air quality.

You can check the latest air quality readings at

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