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Wildfire smoke from Canada reduces Yellowstone County air quality

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Posted at 12:18 PM, May 18, 2023

(RiverStone Health press release)

BILLINGS - Smoke from the wildfires in Alberta, Canada, has reduced air quality in Yellowstone County. On Thursday morning, Billings air quality was unhealthy for sensitive groups, according to the National Weather Service. Everyone in the Billings area is advised to reduce outdoor activity and to go inside if respiratory symptoms develop.

With the spring outdoor sports season in full swing, RiverStone Health reminds superintendents, athletic directors, coaches, athletes and parents to pay careful attention to air quality.

With the unhealthy air quality designation forecast to continue through Thursday and possibly Friday, RiverStone Health recommends consideration of postponing outdoor sporting events, especially high-exertion activities like running. If possible, move athletic practices indoors. If the event/practice is held outdoors, athletes with asthma or other respiratory illnesses are advised not to participate. All athletes should limit outdoor activity for prolonged periods of time.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality offers a handy guide for air quality precautions for daycares and schools at this link: https://dphhs.mt.gov/assets/publichealth/Asthma/Wildfire%20Smoke/ActivityGuidelinesWildfireSmokeEventsSchools.pdf [dphhs.mt.gov]

For updates on the air quality in Billings and other Montana communities, check this DEQ link: http://todaysair.mtdeq.us [todaysair.mtdeq.us]

Smoke from wildfires can hurt eyes, irritate respiratory systems and worsen chronic conditions such as heart and lung disease. People with underlying health conditions, including heart or respiratory disease, the elderly, and children are at higher risk for severe reaction to wildfire smoke. People with asthma should be especially cautious during wildfire season.