Missoula gets “F” for air quality

Posted at 11:12 AM, Apr 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-19 13:12:38-04

MISSOULA – Missoula gets an "F" for particulate pollution in this year’s American Lung Association report.

The American Lung Association’s "State of the Air 2018" report shows that Montana continues to have unhealthy levels of particle pollution, putting communities and residents at risk. 

The city of Missoula ranks as the 12th most polluted for short-term particle pollution. The low ranking is likely influenced from summer wildfires, inversions and unpaved roads.

The report covers data collected from states, cities, counties, tribes and federal agencies from 2014 to 2016. It is important to note that the historic wildfires of 2017 were not captured in this year’s report.

Four Montana counties were included in the top 25 Counties Most Polluted by Short-Term Particle Pollution: Ravalli (9th), Lincoln (17th), Lewis & Clark (19th), and Missoula (22nd).

Lincoln County ranked on both lists for counties with the worst year-round and short-term particle pollution.  

The Grades:

Ozone:No unhealthy ozone days were recorded in Montana and all counties evaluated received an A.

Particle Pollution (year-round): All Montana counties evaluated received a passing grade.

Particle Pollution (short-term): The report provided the following grades to Montana counties for short-term particle pollution levels:

  • Fergus                         F
  • Flathead                      F
  • Lewis and Clark          F
  • Lincoln                         F
  • Missoula                      F
  • Phillips                         F
  • Powder River              D
  • Ravalli                         F
  • Richland                      D
  • Rosebud                      C
  • Silver Bow                   F

“The 2018 ‘State of the Air’ report finds that unhealthful levels of pollution in Montana puts residents at risk for premature death and other serious health effects such as asthma attacks and greater difficulty breathing for those living with a lung disease like COPD,” said Ronni Flannery, Director of the Heathy Air Campaign in Montana. “Across the nation, the report found continued improvement in air quality, but still, more than four in 10 Americans – 133.9 million – live in counties that have unhealthful levels of either ozone or particle pollution, where their health is at risk.”

“We can and should do more to protect our public health from the harms of air pollution,” Flannery continued.  “The Lung Association urges Congress to defend and strengthen the Clean Air Act. The Clean Air Act has seen multiple threats to weaken this vital and effective public health law. The Lung Association also calls on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to implement and enforce current laws instead of repealing major safeguards like the Clean Power Plan and cleaner cars, both vital and important to fight climate change and reduce air pollution.” 

The results serve as a strong reminder that addressing climate change and its impacts on our air quality are key to the fight for healthy air. Climate change is known to cause increased heat, changes in weather patterns, drought and wildfires, which contributed to the extraordinarily high numbers of days with unhealthy particle pollution in many parts of Montana. Many of these spikes were directly linked to wildfire events, which are likely to increase because of climate change.

Click here for more information about Montana’s local air quality data and grades for each county and metropolitan area.

State of the Air 2018 Rankings

Most-Polluted Cities for Short-Term Particle Pollution:

  1. Bakersfield, CA
  2. Visalia-Porterfield, CA
  3. Fresno-Madera, CA
  4. Fairbanks, AK
  5. Modesto-Madera, CA
  6. San Jose-San Francisco, CA
  7. Los Angeles, CA
  8. Salt Lake City, UT
  9. El Centro, CA
  10. Pittsburgh, PA
  11. Logan, UT
  12. Missoula, MT
  13. Lancaster, PA
  14. Anchorage, AK
  15. Seattle-Tacoma, WA