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Portland Has World's Worst Air Quality

Fires push city to No. 1, with Seattle and San Francisco right behind
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 11, 2020 3:29 PM CDT

(Newser) – The wildfires burning in Oregon and Washington have made the air quality in Portland not just bad but dangerous. In the past day, IQAir.com has moved the Oregon city to the top of its list, meaning it has the worst air quality of any major city in the world—worse than Dubai, Delhi, and Los Angeles, reports the Oregonian. IQAir, which assesses 100 cities, put Portland's air quality index at 225 as of Friday afternoon; the EPA's air quality website, AirNow, found it to be even worse at 287. That's in the EPA's "very unhealthy" range. This problem is rare in Portland. Just last week, the air quality index was 11. The West Coast wildfires are causing similar problems in other cities. Seattle (197) ranked second and San Francisco (196) third on the worst-air list. Los Angeles was 7th at 161.

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An index below 50 indicates the air is good, 50-100 moderate, 100 to 150 unhealthy for sensitive people. Anything over 150 is considered unhealthy for everyone, and an index of 300 rates as hazardous. The smoke has raised the index in smaller Oregon cities, as well. Medford, Ashland, and Roseburg were over 300, while Eugene and Salem were over 400. Oregonians have been asked to stay inside if they can. A study after the 2012 wildfires found the smoke caused nearly 2,000 visits to the emergency room, per the Oregonian, and 226 early deaths. The bill for health care costs tied to the fires came to $2.1 billion. (More than a half-million people in Oregon have evacuated.)

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