Air Quality

Fire officials in Klamath and Lake counties have declared fire season beginning June 1 on lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry and Walker Range Fire Patrol Association. This affects all private, county, and state lands. No outdoor or open burning is allowed. Contact ODF with questions.  Click here to go to the ODF website.

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Do your share for clean air

Klamath County currently has one monitoring station at Peterson Elementary school. The monitor has reported poor air quality in Klamath Falls for several years. As a result, the EPA has designated Klamath Falls as a “non-attainment area”. We can reach attainment if we all do our share.

74% of our poor air quality comes from uncertified wood stoves and fireplaces. Replacing your uncertified wood stove or fireplace with a certified wood stove or fireplace can help Klamath reach attainment and continue receiving federal funding. Together, by following the Klamath County air quality advisory and related burning regulations, we can ensure a bright future for the health and well-being of our community. A list of Environmental Protection Agency certified wood stoves can be found here.

Do your share for clean air by following the air quality advisory.

  • Call 541-882-2876 or visit this air quality website for more daily information. 
  • To view hourly air quality data visit the State of Oregon DEQ website.
  • You can also view the 24-hour Air Quality Index by clicking on the circle representing the Klamath area on the web page listed above.

Restrictions on fireplaces, wood stoves, wood-burning fireplace inserts and pellet stoves

Starting October 15, 2020, and ending March 15, 2021, the Klamath County Environmental Health Division will make a daily Air Quality Advisory for the use of fireplaces and woodstoves within the Air Quality Zone.  

The advisory will give:

  • Specific restrictions on the use of fireplaces, woodstoves, fireplace inserts and pellet stoves within the Air Quality Zone;
  • Restrictions on outside or open burning countywide; and
  • The EPA Air Quality Index for the past 24 hours.

Things to Remember

  • If it doesn’t grow, don’t burn it: Only leaves, branches, and other plant grown can be burned, nothing else.
  • Smoke can hurt you, and others: Although smoke from a fire may not bother you immediately, it can be a serious health threat. Smoke and soot from outdoor fires can cause health problems, particularly if you already have respiratory conditions, and pollute the air. Fires, also, can burn out of control, destroying forests and burning down homes.
  • Get a certified wood stove or fireplace insert: Replace your wood stove with a new, cleaner heating system.
  • Reduce, reuse, recycle: Brush can be composted, donate unwanted items, and recycle goods.
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Know the numbers

During periods of impact from wildfire smoke, community members will notice discussion of the air quality index number. This number is most helpful when residents know its meaning. KCPH wants to help the community “know the numbers”. High temperatures can make the smoky conditions more uncomfortable. Knowing the range of air quality numbers can help people make good choices about outdoor activities.

The six levels of the air quality index are:

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mobile phone A mobile app is also now available for smart phones. Simply search for OregonAir in your app store. 

Recommendations for wildfire smoke and COVID-19
during the 2020 wildfire season 

This wildfire season will be especially challenging as we continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. There is concern about the health impacts of wildfire smoke overlapping with COVID-19 because both impact respiratory and immune systems.  

Overlapping health impacts of wildfire smoke and COVID-19 

Breathing in wildfire smoke by itself can produce harmful health effects. These range from minor symptoms, such as eye, nose, and throat irritation or headaches, to more severe symptoms like shortness of breath, chest tightness, asthma attacks, and worsening existing chronic conditions. Some of these respiratory symptoms, including dry cough, sore throat, and difficulty breathing, are also common to COVID-19. 

Populations sensitive to wildfire smoke exposures include people with heart and lung diseases, people with respiratory infections, people with diabetes, stroke survivors, infants, children, pregnant women, and people over 65 years of age. 

Reducing exposure to wildfire smoke during COVID-19 

The following identifies normal recommendations to reduce exposure to wildfire smoke and provides additional guidance for this year, as many of these recommendations are impacted by COVID-19 related restrictions. 

Stay indoors and keep indoor air clean 

When the air quality is poor from wildfire smoke, reduce outdoor physical activity. As the air quality worsens you will need to go indoors and take additional steps to keep smoke out of your home to improve indoor air quality. 

Reduce intake of smoke into your home 

To keep indoor air clean and wildfire smoke from entering your home: 

  • Close windows and doors when it is smoky outside. Track the air quality and open your windows for fresh air when the air quality improves. 
  • Pay attention to heat and take steps to keep it cool indoors by closing curtains during daylight, using an air conditioner or fans. If it’s still too hot, open windows to avoid heat exhaustion and other heat illnesses. 
  • Set air conditioners on recirculate to prevent intake of outside air. 
  • Turn off fans that vent to the outside, like the one in your bathroom. Exhaust fans pull outside air in through cracks around windows and doors. 

Avoid activities that create indoor air pollution 

Do not add to indoor air pollution during wildfire smoke events. Avoid the following activities: burning candles or incense, smoking cigarettes, broiling or frying food, and vacuuming (unless your vacuum has a HEPA filter). 

Improve indoor air filtration 

Click here to visit the EPA indoor air quality site for more information. 

There are three ways to improve indoor air filtration of smoke particles in your home: 

1. Increase HVAC filtration 

Filtration of air in your home will improve the air quality inside your home during wildfire smoke events. The HVAC system is the best way to reduce fine particles (PM2.5) from wildfire smoke throughout your home, rather than only a single room. 

2. Use a portable air cleaner with a HEPA filter 

Improving filtration of air in your home will improve your indoor air quality during wildfire smoke events. Using a portable air cleaner with a HEPA filter can reduce fine particles (PM2.5) from wildfire smoke in a single room. 

3. Use a DIY box fan filter 

Improving filtration of air in your home will improve your indoor air quality during wildfire smoke events. Making your own box fan filters can be a less expensive option to reduce fine particles (PM2.5) from wildfire smoke in a single room. When building your own box fan filter it is important to understand their limitations and the potential risks. 

A note on masks 

Currently, masks and respirators known to protect against wildfire smoke particles, the N95, are in short supply and are being reserved as personal protective equipment for health professionals. The best way to reduce smoke exposure is to stay indoors.