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Rain, which had been predicted late Monday, now likely won't reach the metro area until late in the week.

PMG PHOTO: KEITH SHEFFIELD  - A thick haze hovers inside the Highway 26 tunnel during a commute late last week.

When Hamlet referred to the air as "a foul and pestilent congregation of vapors," he could have been talking about the state of Oregon, not the state of Denmark.

And the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality says the choking haze of smoke isn't going away any time soon.

DEQ, the Lane Regional Air Protection Agency and the Southwest Washington Clean Air Agency extended an air quality advisory Monday, Sept. 14, for all regions of Oregon and Southwest Washington due to smoke from fires in Oregon, Washington and California. DEQ officials say they expect the air quality advisory to last at least through Thursday, Sept. 17.

"The smoke is a constant reminder that this tragedy has not come to an end," Gov. Kate Brown said Monday.

Smoke levels are fluctuating between unhealthy (red) and hazardous (maroon) for Oregon and Southwest Washington, the agency said around noon on Monday.

Smoke levels can change rapidly depending on weather. Check current conditions by visiting the Oregon Smoke Information Blog, downloading the free OregonAIR app onto a smart phone, or going to on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's AirNow site.

Smoke can irritate the eyes and lungs and worsen some medical conditions. Young children, adults older than 65, pregnant women and people with heart disease, asthma or other respiratory conditions are most at risk, according to the DEQ.

And people who have gotten used to wearing masks to avoid the spread of COVID-19 are out of luck — cloth, dust and surgical masks don't protect from the harmful particles in smoke, DEQ said. Also, N95 respirators that are tested to ensure proper fit and that are worn correctly may provide protection, but such respirators have been in short supply for medical professionals since the pandemic began.

Gabriela Goldfarb, Environmental Public Health Section manager at the Oregon Health Authority, said some of the symptoms of smoke inhalation are similar to the symptoms of COVID-19, the diseased caused by the novel coronavirus. Primarily: coughing and shortness of breath.

But symptoms of COVID-19 also include fever, chills and diarrhea; symptoms not typically found in smoke inhalation, she said.


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