Ashland air quality information is now posted online at two websites, www.wrcc.dri.edu/cgi-bin/smoke.pl and oregonsmoke.blogspot.com. The Ashland monitor is number 216.
High smoke levels since the spread of wildfires in southern Oregon and northern California last week have caused unhealthful smoke levels in the Rogue Valley, according to state Department of Environmental Quality monitors in Shady Cove and Medford, the closest to Ashland.
Ashland's temporary monitor atop the Black Swan Theatre downtown was installed by the U.S. Forest Service Thursday to help track air quality impacts of fires burning on USFS land.
At 4 p.m. Friday, the Ashland station, according to the oregonsmoke.blogsport.com website, registered an air quality index number of 174, ranked as "unhealthy," fourth-highest in the six-step scale established by the federal Environmental Protection Administration. Medford's reading at the same time on the DEQ website was 160, also falling in the unhealthy bracket.
The "unhealthy" rating means, according to the EPA, that "Everyone can be affected. Sensitive groups: Avoid prolonged or heavy exertion. Consider moving activities indoors or rescheduling. Everyone else: Reduce prolonged or heavy exertion. Take more breaks during all outdoor activities." For more, go to www.airnow.gov.
Bert Etling is editor of the Ashland Daily Tidings. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 541-631-1313.