Green Neighbors Program

The Clark County Green Neighbors Program is coordinated by Clark County Public Health’s Solid Waste and Environmental Outreach to assist citizens with developing more sustainable lifestyles and building a strong environmental community in Clark County. Solid waste regional planning and programs are a cooperative effort of Battle Ground, Camas, Clark County, La Center, Ridgefield, Vancouver, Washougal, and Yacolt.

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Green Blog

News about our community as it relates to the environment

Is it safe to eat produce exposed to smoke and ash from wildfires?


With the recent wildfires in Washington, Oregon and California, public health experts have urged the public to take precautions against hazardous air quality. Naturally, residents are interested in knowing if eating from these areas means they are consuming the same toxins they had been told to avoid breathing—a concern that will only grow in areas affected by intensifying global wildfires.

There is a scarcity of scientific studies on the risks associated with consuming produce that has been exposed to smoke and ash from wildfires. What is known is that smoke caries chemicals, which we know can be dangerous if inhaled. It is also thought that these same chemicals could prove dangerous if they end up in, or on, the produce we eat. Fortunately, there are some easy steps to reduce the risks of contamination. Proper cleaning, common sense, and in some cases soil testing, can be effective methods of ensuring the safety of your produce.

In general "ash and smoke are unlikely to penetrate fruit and vegetables," according to Brooke Edmunds, associate professor and Extension community horticulturist in the OSU College of Agricultural Science. Still, it is best to take precautions and use common sense when it comes to produce exposed to smoke and ash from wildfires. Safety becomes more of a concern if the produce was grown close to an area that has burned, especially if structures were affected.

Note how much ash collected on your produce and the health of your plant to make a determination.

Here are eight safety tips if you are eating produce that may have been exposed to smoke and ash from wildfires:



Here are some additional resources if you are looking for more information about gardening and harvesting produce after wildfires: 

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