EPA awards Oregon DEQ over $4.5M to improve Klamath County air quality
SEATTLE (Nov. 9, 2023) -- Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded a $4,669,372 Targeted Airshed Grant to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality to help improve air quality around Klamath County.
Grant funds will be used to reduce harmful fine particle air pollution, known as PM2.5, from residential wood smoke through a wide range of programs, including a woodstove change-out program, increased weatherization and outreach to underserved households in the Klamath area.
The grant allows Klamath County Public Health to change out approximately 300 woodstoves with cleaner heating devices such as heat pumps and natural gas furnaces and weatherize roughly 100 houses over five-years. The funding prioritizes woodstove change outs and weatherization for low-income participants living in both rental properties and primary homes.
“Every resident has a part to play in improving air quality in Klamath County,” said EPA Region 10 Administrator Casey Sixkiller. “This funding builds on a successful, community-informed approach that we all hope will result in further reduction of harmful PM2.5 air pollution.”
“We are pleased to have collaboratively developed a community program that prioritizes heat pump installation and utility assistance for low-income participants, said Oregon DEQ Air Quality Administrator Ali Mirzakhalili. “DEQ looks forward to continuing to improve both air quality and wildfire resilience in Klamath Falls with technology that combines heating with cooling and air filtration."
“Air quality is an area of public health that requires our constant attention and intention,” said Jennifer Little, director of Klamath County Public Health. “We’ve had two diligent partners in working toward better air for everyone in the DEQ and South Central Oregon Economic Development District. This grant also includes a new element with Klamath Lake Community Action Services, which is an exciting addition to the ongoing work. Our community is better for the work of each and our continued partnership.”
“The partnership between SCOEDD, Klamath County Public Health, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, and the Environmental Protection Agency to implement the targeted airshed grant activities has been instrumental in reducing wood smoke pollution and improving air quality,” said Janine Cheyne, Finance Director at SCOEDD. “SCOEDD looks forward to continuing this vital work in Klamath Falls.”
Since December 2008, the Klamath Falls airshed has been designated a “nonattainment” area for PM2.5 by the EPA, meaning it does not meet the federal health-based Clean Air Act standard for that pollutant. In the winter, residential wood combustion remains a source of significant emissions in Klamath Falls.
This is the second Targeted Airshed Grant awarded to DEQ to collaborate with partners KCPH and SCOEDD to improve air quality in the Klamath Falls area. The first grant was awarded in 2020 for $1,839,947 million.
For the past three years, South Central Oregon Economic Development District’s woodstove conversion program has overseen approximately 115 woodstove change outs and 50 weatherization upgrades to homes in Klamath Falls. These numbers are in addition to the nearly 500 woodstove change outs and 5.5 tons of reduced emissions in the past 10 years.
Exposure to PM2.5 can have negative health affects on both the lungs and heart. Scientists have linked PM 2.5 exposure to a variety of problems, including irregular heartbeat, aggravated asthma, decreased lung function, and increased respiratory symptoms, such as coughing or difficulty breathing.