Portland, west coast air quality reach 'off the chart' levels

Smoke from wildfires fills the sky over Pasadena, Calif., in this view looking east down Colorado Boulevard on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. The air was categorized as unhealthy by the South Coast Air Quality Management District. The National Weather Service said there were widespread smoke layers across the region. (AP Photo/John Antczak)John Antczak/AP

Portland remains in the number one spot for poor quality air Monday. The biggest city in Oregon and nearby Seattle are the top cities in the world for air pollution. Portland reached levels considered “off the chart” over the weekend.

The Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and other national and local agencies partner together on reporting air quality using the official Air Quality Index.

The index is color-coded and goes from 0 to 500. The higher the number, the greater the level of air pollution and the greater the health concern. On the low end, 0-50 is considered “good” air quality, or green, and 301-500 is considered “hazardous” and is maroon colored.

Air quality was measured at above 500 in and around Portland, Oregon on Sunday. While air conditions have improved, they are still listed as the worst air quality in the world, with Seattle as number 2, and San Francisco and Los Angeles in the top six. Areas in Central California are also reporting high air quality levels because of nearby wildfires.

There are more than 100 wildfires burning in Washington, Oregon, Colorado and California. They have killed more than 30 people, and forced hundreds of thousands to evacuate with little notice.

However, the smoke in the air is unavoidable for the millions living in these three states. Residents are being told to stay indoors and extremely limit outdoor activities. With a visibility range of only about 50-feet in some places, even driving could be dangerous.

To check the air quality in your area, visit IQair.com. Or visit the EPA’s air quality website, airnow.gov, and type in your city or ZIP code.