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Missoula group launches new resource for Montanans dealing with wildfire smoke

Posted at 5:05 PM, Aug 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-16 19:05:39-04

The disastrous wildfire season of 2017 is still fresh in the memory of many Montanans as the 2018 season begins to claim more acres.

The flames capture our attention as they threaten buildings and move through our wilderness, but the smoke they billow into the air ultimately affects many more people.

Climate Smart Missoula is launching, a website designed to give residents across the state a resource to turn to as air quality concerns spread across Montana.

The goal of the site is to make information on how to be as safe and healthy as possible during our ever expanding wildfire season, as easily accessible as possible.

One of the most common pieces of advice when dealing with poor air quality is to spend more time inside, but Climate Smart Missoula has found that oftentimes air quality inside buildings can be just as bad as outside, as very few buildings have advanced enough filtration systems to capture the fine particulate produced by wildfires.

If you want more information on how to ensure your home is a healthy environment, as well scientific findings, climate information and up to date information on current conditions the website provides a hub where all this information can be found.

The site was founded on grant money from Montana Wildfire Relief Fund and Missoula air quality specialist Sarah Coefield believes this resource will serve the community as fire seasons continue to affect our air quality.

“This problem is not going away – in fact, is likely to get worse, so we’ve got to help Montanans stay as healthy as possible.  This website is a wonderful and needed resource when the smoke’s bad, but also as we plan for next year and the years to come,” said Coefield in a press release.

Billings Clinic Pulmonologist Dr. Daniel Loverde says that the impacts of poor air quality are far reaching and can affect our communities in multiple ways.

“Poor air quality usually comes along with pollutants or particulates in the air, these things can get inside the lungs and cause irritation and inflammation. And that’s what produces a lot of people’s respiratory symptoms. So when air quality declines we know, from multiple studies in the United States and around the world, that as air quality declines hospital admissions go up, people get sicker and diseases tend to get worse,” said Dr. Loverde.

The site will be updated with current information on fires and air quality as well as new scientific and medical information.