UPDATE: Air quality in Eugene/Springfield reaches hazardous levels

Highway I-5 looking north from the Glenwood overpass at noon on Sunday. The smoke is from several nearby forest fires. Photo by Dan Morrison, Oregon News Lab

EUGENE, Ore. — If you opened up your blinds on Sunday morning hoping to see clear skies and the sun shining, well, you were most likely disappointed.

Once again, a cloud of smoke sits atop the Willamette Valley, hovering like a thick fog. Visibility is down, coughing is up, and for everyone, a refreshing breath of clean, Oregon air can't be far from their minds.

UPDATE: The Lane Regional Air Protection Agency has detected a hazardous level of air quality in Eugene and Springfield. All residents are encouraged to stay inside and keep windows closed.

For the second day in a row, smoke from numerous fires around Oregon has drifted to the western and southern region with a wind-shift, and air quality levels are sitting at un "unhealthy" standard.

The smoke particles that are filling the air can also easily get into your lungs, causing health problems for many. The most susceptible are the elderly, infants, and those with asthma.

"The smoke particulates in the atmosphere irritate the lungs, making breathing more difficult," said Robert Stalbow, Respiratory Therapist at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend. "We recommend that people in the higher risk groups reduce their exposure to the hot outdoor air for the duration of this weather event. These groups include infants, children, pregnant women and adults over age 65, as well as those with asthma, respiratory infection, diabetes, lung or heart disease, or those who have had a stroke."

It is also possible that the smoke could get inside your home as well.

The pollution in question is known as "PM2.5" - that's shorthand for particulate matter 2.5 micrometers in size or smaller.

"Particles bigger than 10 micrometers can irritate your eyes, nose, and throat but do not usually reach your lungs. Ten micrometers is about seven times thinner than one human hair," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explained.

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