U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Hood River) continues to push for active forest management to prevent catastrophic wildfires. Yesterday, Walden held a hearing examining the air quality impacts of smoke from those fires.
“These fires have left communities in my district blanketed with smoke and with the worst air quality in the world,” Walden said. “A leading offender is particulate matter.”
The chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee said research by the Environmental Protection Administration shows premature deaths tied to air pollution by wildfires are as high as 2,500 between the years 2008 and 2012; while research done at the Colorado State University says it’s likely to be closer to 25,000.
During the hearing, Walden showcased a cabin air filter from an automobile after two months of driving through smoky conditions in Southern Oregon and a clogged up C-Pap filter that needed to be changed after two days of use instead of the usual two weeks.
Walden said health isn’t the only risk from wildfire smoke. It also hurts the economy. In addition to negative impacts on agricultural output, tourism is also damaged. He cited an analysis of the 2017 wildfire season that estimates 600 jobs were cut in Central and Southern Oregon due to the decline of tourism caused by active wildfires.