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DEQ officials warn of worsening air quality

 Posted: 11:35 AM January 30, 2013

An air pollution advisory has been issued through Tuesday for portions of Jackson and Josephine counties by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

Noting the National Weather Service predicts a strong inversion will hang over the region through that time, the DEQ warned that stagnant conditions might trap pollution, causing air quality to deteriorate in parts of the two counties as well as areas of Douglas, Klamath and Lake counties.

As a result, air quality in some of the affected areas may be as bad or worse than during the forest fires last August, DEQ spokesman William Knight said.

Air quality is expected to deteriorate during the week in many areas and pollutants may reach "unhealthful" levels, he said.

During periods of air stagnation, smoke is trapped at ground level where people breathe the smoke particles deep into their lungs. Numerous scientific studies have linked smoke pollution to a variety of problems including coughing, aggravated asthma, bronchitis and irregular heartbeat.

The DEQ is asking people in the affected areas to halt outdoor burning and limit use of woodstoves that aren't certified. Those with alternative heating options are asked not to burn in woodstoves or fireplaces, Knight said.

In addition, those living in the affected area are requested to limit driving as much as possible, he noted.

— Paul Fattig

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