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Air Quality Alert issued for Western Montana

Lolo Air Quality
Posted at 9:59 AM, Jul 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-16 12:00:17-04

MISSOULA — The wildfire smoke that has settled over Western Montana has prompted an Air Quality Alert to be issued.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has issued the alert for Missoula, Ravalli, Deer Lodge, Jefferson, Powell, and Silver Bow counties until 8 a.m. Saturday.

Air quality readings showed unhealthy air quality in Missoula and Frenchtown on Friday morning. Hamilton and Seeley Lake were seeing readings that are considered unhealthy for sensitive groups.

When air quality is Unhealthy, people with heart or lung disease, smokers, children, and the elderly should limit heavy or prolonged exertion and limit time spent outdoors. People with asthma should follow their asthma management plan. People experiencing symptoms of heart or lung disease associated with smoke exposure should contact their health care provider.

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When air quality is Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups, people with heart or lung disease, children and the elderly should limit prolonged outdoor exertion. Anyone experiencing symptoms of heart or lung disease associated with smoke exposure should contact their health care provider.

Here is an explanation from MT DEQ about the different categories:

  • HAZARDOUS: All children and adults should avoid or limit all outdoor exertion
  • VERY UNHEALTHY: Active children and adults, and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma, should avoid all outdoor exertion; everyone else, especially children, should limit outdoor exertion
  • UNHEALTHY: Active children and adults, and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma, should avoid prolonged outdoor exertion; everyone else, especially children, should limit prolonged outdoor exertion
  • UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS: Active children and adults, and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma, should limit prolonged outdoor exertion
  • MODERATE: Unusually sensitive people should consider limiting prolonged outdoor exertion

Missoula City-County Health Department Air Quality Specialist Sarah Coefield notes we have been "seeing a constant stream of thick overhead smoke from fires burning in Oregon, and it has contributed to prolonged daily inversions.'

The latest air quality readings for Montana can be found here.