GRANT COUNTY - Local health official are warning people with respiratory illnesses to take precautions as heavy smoke persists from the ongoing wildland fires in the region.

"Due to the high amount of smoke and ash in the air along with unusually high temperatures, Karen Triplett, administrator for the Grant County Health Department is issuing a warning for persons with respiratory illness to stay indoors with their windows closed and air conditioners on," said John Combs, environmental health specialist in the Health Department.

Depending on the fires growth or which way the wind is blowing, air quality conditions could change.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) warns that symptoms from short-term smoke exposure can range from scratchy throat, cough, irritated sinuses, headaches, runny nose and stinging eyes.

Persons with asthma, emphysema, congestive heart disease and other existing medical conditions can have more serious reactions. The elderly and children are also high-risk groups.

The DEQ website states that it is possible to make a visual estimate of smoke levels and risks, using the following guidelines:

When visibility is 10 miles or more, air quality is "good."

If the visual range is six to nine miles, air quality is "moderate," - a possibility exists of aggravation of heart or lung disease among persons with cardiopulmonary disease and the elderly.

A visual range of three to five miles is considered "unhealthy" for sensitive groups, increasing likelihood of respiratory symptoms in sensitive individuals, aggravation of heart or lung disease and premature mortality in persons with cardiopulmonary disease and the elderly. People with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly and children should limit prolonged exertion.

A visual range of one and a half to two and a half miles the air quality is considered "unhealthy," -possible increased aggravation of heart or lung disease and premature mortality in persons with cardiopulmonary disease and the elderly; increased respiratory effects in general population. People with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly and children should avoid prolonged exertion; everyone else should limit prolonged exertion.

A visual range of one mile is listed as "very unhealthy" - significant aggravation of heart or lung disease and premature mortality in persons with cardiopulmonary disease and the elderly; significant increase in respiratory effects in general population. People with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly and children should avoid any outdoor activity; everyone else should avoid prolonged exertion.

A visual range of three-quarters of a mile is "hazardous" - serious aggravation of heart or lung disease and premature mortality in persons with cardiopulmonary disease and the elderly; serious risk of respiratory effects in general population. Everyone should avoid any outdoor exertion; people with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly and children should remain indoors.

To make a visual air quality observation the DEQ suggests facing away from the sun and determining the limit of your visual range by looking for targets at known distances (miles). The visual range is that point at which even high contrast objects totally disappear.

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