BUTTE - Air quality is becoming a major health issue due to increased wildfires in Montana and around the country.
That’s why health officials in Butte want to be proactive in preparing people for the wildfire season.
“It’s going to be a public health issue that we’re going to be facing and most likely we’re going to be facing it early in the year and just a longer season,” said Butte Environmental Health Director John Rolich.
The Butte Health Department, along with the EPA, is putting together an informational plan that people will soon be able to access at Airnbow.gov to get updates on air quality and what they can do to protect themselves.
“In the plan is actually how to set up a clean indoor air space and that’s like using air purifiers, how to do it, and also just how to protect yourself when you’re out,” said Rolich.
With hotter, dryer weather wildfires have increased substantially in recent years, with more than 7 million acres burned in wildfires last year in the United States. Over 900,000 acres were burnt in wildfires in Montana last year.
“We can be affected by wildfires in other states and can cause us to have really poor air quality also,” said Rolich.
Air monitoring station machines measure the amount of particulates that are in the air, which can be dangerous to people's health.
“And that particulate will go deep into your lungs and to your respiratory system and cause some very adverse health effects, especially to people who are very young, the elderly,” he said.