Eugene Air Quality Index (AQI) and Oregon Air Pollution | IQAir (2023)

Why is Eugene air quality bad?

When it comes to clean air, short-term particle pollution (PM2.5) is of primary concern in Eugene, Oregon. Eugene averages 6.2 unhealthy PM2.5 days per year, nearly double the federal allowance set at 3.2 unhealthy days per year.1

PM2.5 includes a combination of airborne particulate matter including ash, soot, dust, dirt, pollen, and chemicals that measure 2.5 microns in diameter or smaller. Unlike gases and other commonly measured air pollutants, PM2.5 is defined by its size rather than its chemical makeup. This is because PM2.5 describes matter so small that it’s able to cross the natural barriers in our airways and enter the bloodstream. In doing so, PM2.5 has the ability to affect a variety of organs, such as the heart and brain, among others.

PM2.5 pollution in Eugene comes from a combination of sources including vehicular and industrial emissions, wood and stubble burning, windblown dust and pesticides from agricultural land, pollen from the Willamette Valley grass seed farms, and transboundary pollution carried by wind from neighboring cities and states.2

To understand Eugene air quality, it’s important to understand the difference between air pollution emissions and measured air quality levels. While emissions are responsible for polluting the air with particles and gases, meteorological events such as wind, rain, and temperature conditions can significantly impact measured ambient air quality. This is because weather plays a critical role in pollution dispersion. While wind and rain, for example, can disperse and tamp down particle pollution, a lack thereof can cause emissions to accumulate. Temperature conditions can likewise play a similar role.

Under normal thermal conditions, temperatures decrease with gains in altitude. Thermal, or temperature, inversions occur when these conditions are disrupted. For example, when ground-level air is cooler than an air layer directly above it. When this happens, the cool ground-level air stagnates and is prevented from rising and dispersing, causing ground-level pollution emissions to accumulate. Thermal inversions in inland Oregon are particularly common during the winter when snow coverage, freezing conditions, and a lack of direct sunlight contribute to freezing ground-level air.

(Video) Video Update : Eugene Oregon AqI 300 +

In Eugene, PM2.5 emissions tend to reach their highest levels during wildfire season in the late summer, early fall, and in the winter as a result of domestic wood burning. In 2019, November and December were Eugene’s most polluted months respectively, with PM2.5 concentrations of 21.7 μg/m3 and 16.8 μg/m3, roughly 4 to 5 times summer levels. These high measured values are largely attributable to climatic conditions that trap emissions in the atmosphere rather than the increase in direct emissions.

Denver air quality suffers from similar climatic conditions. Both cities tied at #24 for worst short-term air pollution in the US out of 201 included cities according to the American Lung Association’s (ALA) 2018 State of the Air report.

Of neighboring cities, Eugene reported the highest PM2.5 levels in 2019 with an average annual concentration of 8.8 μg/m3, but fared better than neighboring interior cities, such as Salem and Roseburg, in 2018, with a PM2.5 concentration of 7.1 μg/m3. Other cities reported:


  • Portland air quality (103 miles away): 8.1 μg/m3 in 2019, 6.9 μg/m3 in 2018
  • Roseburg air quality (60 miles away): 7.3 μg/m3 in 2019, 8.4 μg/m3 in 2018
  • Salem air quality (61 miles away): 7.2 μg/m3 in 2019, 7.8 μg/m3 in 2018
  • Albany air quality (40 miles away): 6 μg/m3 in 2019, 6.5 μg/m3 in 2018

While short-term PM2.5 pollution is the only measure for which Eugene air quality fails to meet US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) attainment, other pollution measures have room for improvement as well.

The ALA grades cities based on their ability to meet targets for short-term pollution. Standards are set by the US EPA, recommending an allowance of no more than 3.2 unhealthy pollution days per year. In 2020, the ALA graded Eugene a “C” for ozone, for passing the federal target, while still reporting an average of 1.7 unhealthy ozone days per year.

(Video) Air Quality Index

Is air pollution in Eugene getting worse?

In terms of deadly PM2.5 and ozone pollution, Eugene air quality has improved significantly over the last two decades. Overall improvements owe to regulations on woodburning and highly polluting industries as well as a transition to a cleaner energy power grid portfolio and lower-emission, more fuel-efficient vehicles, among others.

After particularly long and severe wildfire seasons in 2017, 2018, and 2020 (all of which were at one-point, record-breaking), observers may feel like pollution is in fact getting worse. They are not wrong. From 2007 to 2016, Lane County met federal attainment levels for short-term PM2.5. Since 2016, however, there has been a rise in particle pollution events largely correlated with the wildfire season.

In 2020, wildfire smoke contributed to the highest air quality levels on record for Lane County (AQI 494) since its monitoring began in 1968.3 The last record was set on September 3, 2017 as a result of the Deception Complex Fire, which caused Eugene’s AQI to reach a value of 291.

While more frequent and severe wildfires present a challenge in maintaining clean air, the city has made significant achievements in the last 20 years, such as meeting federal attainment for annual PM2.5 and daily ozone pollution. Continued efforts can even further reduce the potential for resident health implications.

How is air quality in Eugene Oregon fire season?

Oregon wildfires tend to be ignited either naturally, by lightning, or by human negligence, such as poorly discarded cigarettes, campfires, acts of arson, and misfired fireworks. While fires are possible every month of the year, Oregon’s wildfire season usually begins in early July and extends through late September.4 Fires that occur in the early and late end of the season are often human-caused, while peak fire months (late July, August, and early September) are more often associated with lightning sieges.

(Video) The National Weather Service answers questions about air quality in Oregon

Seasonal trends, impacted by climate change, have led to earlier snow melts, drier summer conditions, warmer temperatures, and an increase in dead forest underbrush — all of which contribute to worsened wildfire seasons. Eugene air quality suffers as a result.

2020 was a record wildfire year in Oregon, and directly contributed to record air pollution in Eugene. For the first time, since records began in 1968, air quality in Eugene exceeded an AQI of 300, “hazardous”. Moreover, unhealthy air quality levels were sustained for more than a week.

There is not always such a clear correlation with wildfires and Eugene air quality. Weather, such as wind, rain, and temperature conditions, dictate whether pollution disperses freely or becomes trapped in the atmosphere. Follow forecast air quality data in Eugene to understand how these effects are likely to affect city-wide air quality on any given day.

Where is smoke in Eugene coming from?

When Eugene air quality suffers from smoky skies, it is usually the result of wildfires burning in the region. Record Oregon wildfires have kept the topic of air quality in news headlines, recent smoke causes cities to experience days and weeks of “unhealthy” air quality.

Environmental scientists attribute the increase in wildfire frequency and severity to anthropogenic, human-caused climate change.5 In the last two decades, nearly every year has been classified as having “severe drought” conditions – only 4 years escaped having this title. During the same time period, temperatures in the US northwest have risen by 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit on average.

(Video) Air Quality from Oregon and Washington Wildfires.

As wildfires and smoky skies become part of the new norm during the months of July through September, it will become increasingly important for residents to take action to reduce their pollution exposure.

The IQAir air quality map of Eugene, Oregon provides real-time fire and air quality data, allowing users to pinpoint where fires are burning and observe how these emissions are affecting air quality. Use the air quality forecast to help anticipate spells of polluted air and guide precautions.

What is Eugene doing to improve air quality?

Eugene has been successful in driving down daily city-wide emission through a multi-pronged approach, including a general shift towards renewable electric energy, higher efficiency requirements, and regulations on high-emitting industries. The two single most impactful changes have come by-way of renewable energy, and ongoing efforts to transition residents to electric vehicles.


Renewable Electric Energy


Eugene benefits from one of the cleanest power grid portfolios in the nation.6 Roughly 80 percent of Eugene’s power is sourced from carbon-free, air pollution-free hydroelectric energy. The remaining 20 percent, meanwhile, is sourced from more conventional renewable sources. Almost no energy comes from fossil fuels. By eliminating coal-fired power plants and shifting to renewable sources Eugene ranks as one of the top 100 cleanest power cities in the world.


Electric Vehicle Incentives


Motor vehicles are traditionally the single largest source of air pollution in US cities, contributing to deadly ambient PM2.5 and ozone. Hybrid and electric vehicles offer an opportunity for driving down emission from this sector. Oregon is promoting the adaptation of electric vehicles through rebate programs which can save buyers as much as $5,000.7 The federal government offers an additional tax incentive, which may credit new buyers as much as $7,500. The federal tax credit is currently only available to the first 200,000 eligible vehicles per manufacturer.

(Video) What 500 AQI Looks Like from a Drone (Hazardous CA Wildfire Smoke)

+Article Resources

[1] American Lung Association. (2020). State of the Air – 2020.
[2] Houston H. (2018, July 19). It ain’t easy being wheezy. Eugene Weekly.
[3] Parafiniuk-Talesnick T. (2020, September 14). 'We've never seen this before': Smoky air expected to continue to plague Lane County residents this week. The Register-Guard.
[4] City of Eugene. (2020). Emergency management - wildfire.
[5] Burns J. (2020). We know climate change set the conditions for Oregon fires. Did it stoke the flames, too? Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB).
[6] Eugene Water & Electric Board. (2020). Where your power comes from - power supply.
[7] Eugene Water & Electric Board. (2020). EV incentives and rebates.

FAQs

Does Eugene Oregon have good air quality? ›

Today's Air Quality-Eugene, OR

Air quality is considered satisfactory, and air pollution poses little or no risk.

What US city has the highest AQI? ›

Most Polluted Cities | State of the Air
Fresno-Madera-Hanford, CAfresno-madera-hanford-ca.html1
Bakersfield, CAbakersfield-ca.html2
Fairbanks, AKfairbanks-ak.html3
San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland, CAsan-jose-san-francisco-oakland-ca.html4
Redding-Red Bluff, CAredding-red-bluff-ca.html5
19 more rows

What part of Oregon has the best air quality? ›

Clatsop

Why is Eugene smoke? ›

The smoke in Eugene and Springfield is due to a lack of air movement in the region, Knudsen said. Because there is very little wind, the smoke has been settling into the valley at night when the cool air sinks and does not get blown away, he said.

Does Eugene Oregon have smog? ›

Eugene-Springfield ranked as the No. 15 city most polluted by daily particulate matter, or PM, a grade which monitors spikes in poor air quality.

What is AQI in Eugene? ›

What is the current air quality in Eugene?
Air pollution levelAir quality indexMain pollutant
Good11 US AQIPM2.5
30 Sept 2022

Which US city has cleanest air? ›

Maine. Bangor is by far the cleanest in terms of ozone air pollution and short-term particle pollution.

What state in the US has the worst air pollution? ›

California is the most polluted state in the US. Here are the six of the most polluted cities, with Fresno-Madera and Bakersfield being the two areas with the highest levels of particulate pollution. Moreover, the worst ozone levels can be found in Los Angeles.

Is there any clean air in Oregon? ›

​In 1980, only 30% of Oregonians lived in clean air areas that met national health standards for air pollution. Today, all areas in Oregon meet these standards.

Where is the smoke in Eugene coming from? ›

Officials are telling people in the Eugene and Springfield area that smoke from the Cedar Creek fire is making the air quality unhealthy. Both the Oregon Health Authority and Lane County Public Health tweeted Monday about the worsening air conditions caused by wildfire smoke.

Does rain help air quality? ›

Rain might ruin a picnic, but when it comes to air pollution, it can actually be a really good thing. This is because, on rainy days, most of the common air pollutants and pollen in the air are washed away, helping to increase the quality of the air. This phenomenon is called Wet deposition.

Why is it smoky in the Willamette Valley? ›

The diminished air quality is mainly due to the Cedar Creek Fire, which has burned more than 120,000 acres in the Willamette and Deschutes National Forests.

What fire is causing smoke in Eugene? ›

The Cedar Creek Fire has been burning east of the Oakridge area since early August, often choking nearby residents with unhealthy air. Since the fire started, east winds have occasionally pushed heavy smoke toward Eugene-Springfield.

Does Eugene Oregon have wildfires? ›

The wildland fire season in Oregon usually begins in early July and typically culminates in late September with a moisture event; however, wildland fires have occurred in every month of the year.

How old does a car have to be to not need emissions in Oregon? ›

If your vehicle is new (model year within the last four years) it is exempt from the testing requirements. If your vehicle is beyond the four-year exemption, however, please review Testing Requirement and Options. No paperwork from the vehicle purchase or from the DMV is required for this initial test.

Will an Oregon car pass California smog? ›

Answer: A smog check from Oregon will not be accepted in California. Not to worry though. The DMV will renew the vehicle's registration without a smog check if a form REG 5103 is submitted along with the registration renewal.

What is pm2 5 polluted? ›

Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is an air pollutant that is a concern for people's health when levels in air are high. PM2.5 are tiny particles in the air that reduce visibility and cause the air to appear hazy when levels are elevated.

What state has the healthiest air? ›

Hawaii ranks first in the nation for air and water quality, as well as in the overall natural environment category. Massachusetts places second in this subcategory, followed by North Dakota, Virginia and Florida. Learn more about the Best States for air and water quality below.

Where is the freshest air on Earth? ›

Finland has the cleanest air in the world

Air quality in Finland is the best in the world according to data released by the World Health Organisation, WHO. The level of airborne particles in Finland is on average 6 micrograms per cubic metre – the lowest level for any individual country.

Which city has the best tap water? ›

City Rankings
OVERALL RANKCityOverall Score
1Cary, NC88.339
2Winston-Salem, NC85.504
3Yonkers, NY84.902
4Bellevue, WA84.757
73 more rows
13 May 2021

What are the 5 worst states to live in for air quality? ›

The Top Seven U.S. States with the Worst Air Quality
  • #1: California. California consistently ranks as the most polluted state in the country. ...
  • #2: Pennsylvania. ...
  • #3: Texas. ...
  • #4: Washington. ...
  • #5: Oregon. ...
  • #6: Alaska. ...
  • #7: Utah.
16 Oct 2019

What is the most toxic state? ›

Residents of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida live in states with the most toxic air pollution, according to an analysis by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

What are the top 10 most polluted states? ›

States with the highest pollution levels:
  • Nevada.
  • Indiana.
  • Delaware.
  • Utah.
  • Ohio.
  • Oregon.
  • Tennessee.
  • Illinois.
12 Sept 2022

Where is the freshest air in the US? ›

Hawaii. Hawaii has an air quality index of 21.2, the cleanest average air in the U.S. This is well in the good air quality index range.

Which state is the best state to live in? ›

The top state is Massachusetts, which ranked first in the nation for education and health, fourth for safety, sixth for quality of life, and 10th for its economy. It did rank a low 44th out of 50 states for affordability, but its overall score was enough to eke out a win over the closely-second next state.

Who has the best air quality in the US? ›

The Wyoming capital ranked first in cleanest cities for year-round particle pollution, despite being roughly 95 miles away from Denver, which had the seventh-worst ozone air pollution. Casper, Wyoming, also made the top 10.

Does Oregon have a lot of pollution? ›

Oregon has more than 120,000 miles of polluted or “impaired” rivers and streams – the most nationwide, according to a new analysis.

What is the primary contributor to air pollution in Oregon? ›

Cars and trucks are the number one source of air pollution in Oregon.

What place has the worst air quality? ›

List of most-polluted cities by particulate matter concentration
PositionCountryCity/Town
1IndiaKanpur
2IndiaFaridabad
3IndiaGaya
4IndiaVaranasi
48 more rows

Where are the current fires in Oregon? ›

Currently, no active large fires in Oregon and Washington.

Why is it smoky in Corvallis? ›

Corvallis police say the smoke seen around Corvallis is from the 212-acre Willamina Creek fire north of Dallas.

Why is Portland so smoky? ›

Wildfires burning across the Pacific Northwest through a season of record-breaking heat and dry weather have spread a blanket of smoke across Seattle, Portland and other parts of the region, where residents are breathing some of the planet's worst air this week.

Is pollution worse in summer or winter? ›

It depends — some types of pollution are worse in the summer heat, while others are worse in cold winter weather. The same atmospheric conditions that create weather — air pressure, temperature, and humidity — also affect air quality.

Why is air quality worse at night? ›

This is because, as the temperature drops during the nighttime hours, the atmosphere traps car emissions, CO2, and other pollutants in the house and down near the ground – and the effect is much worse if spaces inside the home are poorly ventilated.

What time of day is air pollution lowest? ›

Instead of during the quiet of night, it's the afternoon–right around rush hour–that PM2. 5 is the lowest. So if you're planning a picnic or insist on exercising outside, you're usually best off between noon and 6pm.

How close is Cedar Creek Fire to Eugene? ›

The blaze, about 60 miles east of Eugene, Ore., forced evacuations in Lane and Deschutes counties. It was one wildfire among 21 burning in Oregon, according to the state.

Are there fires in Willamette Valley? ›

2022 Wildfire Updates and News

They are: Cedar Creek Fire: As of October 18, 2022, the Cedar Creek Fire is burning on about 125,640 acres roughly seven miles east of Oakridge and a few miles north of Highway 58—not far from Waldo Lake.

Why is it smoky in Newberg Oregon? ›

The smoke you are seeing is likely from one or more large fires in the state of Oregon that has migrated into our area. Smoke from large fires, over time, can travel long distances. To see what large fires are currently active in the northwest you can visit http://gacc.nifc.gov/nwcc/.

What does AQI stand for? ›

The Air Quality Index (AQI) was developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide a simple, uniform way to report daily air quality conditions. Minnesota AQI numbers are determined by hourly measurements of five pollutants: fine particles. ground-level ozone.

Where is the smoke in Bend coming from? ›

Oregon wildfire update: Smoke in Bend Wednesday from Willamette National Forest. The Cedar Creek Fire is burning in the Willamette National Forest near Waldo Lake.

Why is it so smoky in Roseburg Oregon? ›

As mentioned, the largest contributor to air pollution levels in Roseburg would be that of forest fires. The burning of vast swathes of organic material, both dead and alive, can release highly dangerous pollutants into the air, which can cause further damage to the environment and ecosystems, as well as human health.

Where is the smoke in Eugene coming from? ›

Officials are telling people in the Eugene and Springfield area that smoke from the Cedar Creek fire is making the air quality unhealthy. Both the Oregon Health Authority and Lane County Public Health tweeted Monday about the worsening air conditions caused by wildfire smoke.

Does rain help air quality? ›

Rain might ruin a picnic, but when it comes to air pollution, it can actually be a really good thing. This is because, on rainy days, most of the common air pollutants and pollen in the air are washed away, helping to increase the quality of the air. This phenomenon is called Wet deposition.

What is pm2 5 polluted? ›

Fine particulate matter (PM2.5) is an air pollutant that is a concern for people's health when levels in air are high. PM2.5 are tiny particles in the air that reduce visibility and cause the air to appear hazy when levels are elevated.

Why is it smoky in the Willamette Valley? ›

The diminished air quality is mainly due to the Cedar Creek Fire, which has burned more than 120,000 acres in the Willamette and Deschutes National Forests.

What fire is causing smoke in Eugene? ›

The Cedar Creek Fire has been burning east of the Oakridge area since early August, often choking nearby residents with unhealthy air. Since the fire started, east winds have occasionally pushed heavy smoke toward Eugene-Springfield.

Where are the current fires in Oregon? ›

Currently, no active large fires in Oregon and Washington.

Is pollution worse in summer or winter? ›

It depends — some types of pollution are worse in the summer heat, while others are worse in cold winter weather. The same atmospheric conditions that create weather — air pressure, temperature, and humidity — also affect air quality.

Why is air quality worse at night? ›

This is because, as the temperature drops during the nighttime hours, the atmosphere traps car emissions, CO2, and other pollutants in the house and down near the ground – and the effect is much worse if spaces inside the home are poorly ventilated.

What time of day is air pollution lowest? ›

Instead of during the quiet of night, it's the afternoon–right around rush hour–that PM2. 5 is the lowest. So if you're planning a picnic or insist on exercising outside, you're usually best off between noon and 6pm.

Does N95 protect against PM2 5? ›

From all the test result, N95 is good enough for filtering most of the PM2. 5 particles, but sensitive persons can consider using N99 version of those masks (N99 stands for filtering more the 99% of airborne particles).

At what AQI should I close windows? ›

Some sources say anything under 100 is fine for most people; others say to shut windows for AQI >25.

Can surgical mask block PM2 5? ›

The word surgical mask or mask (which normally people use in a PM 2.5 situation) would not serve any purpose. Only respirators should be used to prevent the effects from inhaling PM2.

Videos

1. Hazardous air quality puts everyone at risk, experts say
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2. Smoke in the Valley: Oregon wildfires 2020
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3. Lahore Air Quality Index crosses worst levels
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4. Air quality affecting youth sports
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5. Bad air quality and 100s on Friday
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6. Lane County Purple Air Sensor Network
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