Science

Seeping under doors, bad air from West’s fires won’t ease up


PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Putrid, dangerous air spewing from massive wildfires on the West Coast is seeping into homes and businesses, sneaking into cars through air conditioning vents and keeping people already shut away by the coronavirus pandemic from enjoying even a walk outside or trip to the park.

People in Oregon, Washington state and California have been struggling for a week or longer under some of the most unhealthy air on the planet. Relief from the acrid yellowish-green smog may not come for days or weeks, scientists and forecasters said.

And with wildfires getting larger and more destructive because of climate change and more people living closer to areas that burn, it’s likely smoke will shroud the sky more often in the future.

“I don’t think that we should be outside, but at the same time, we’ve been cooped up in the house already for months, so it’s kind of hard to dictate what’s good and what’s bad. I mean, we shouldn’t be outside period,” Portland resident Issa Ubidia-Luckett said as she grabbed food Monday.

The hazy, gunk-filled air closed businesses like Whole Foods stores and iconic Powell’s Books in Portland and suspended garbage pickup in some communities. Pollution and fire evacuations canceled online school and closed some college campuses in Oregon.

Smoke enveloped Washington state, and some parts of California might not see relief until next month. Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality extended an air quality alert to Thursday, and the air was so thick that Alaska Airlines stopped flights to Portland and Spokane, Washington, until Tuesday afternoon.

Zoe Flanagan, who has lived in Portland for 12 years, braved the smog to walk her two dogs Monday. In desperation, Flanagan and her husband turned on the heater a day earlier because it has a better filter than their…

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