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Wildfire smoke brings "unhealthy" air to Western MT

DEQ Air Quality
Posted at 4:47 PM, Sep 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-09 18:50:17-04

HELENA — The air quality in many parts of Western Montana has reached unhealthy levels due to wildfire smoke.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) reported “unhealthy” air on Thursday afternoon in several counties including Flathead, Granite, Lake, Lincoln, Mineral, Missoula, Powell, Ravalli, and Sanders counties.

According to DEQ, "the elevated particulate levels in the air are due to smoke from wildfires burning in Montana and out-of-state.” Moderate to unhealthy air quality is expected throughout the day and into Friday.

When air quality is unhealthy consider the following tips:

  • Before heading outside for any physical activity, check for air quality updates and pay attention to any hazardous air quality advisories. Air quality information is updated regularly here.
  • When wildfires occur, continue to monitor DEQ’s site for changes in air quality.
  • Pay attention to visibility. How far can you see in the distance? Looking at visibility can help estimate air quality.
  • If the air quality is poor, limit outdoor activities and keep your indoor air clean by keeping all doors and windows shut and setting any air conditioning units to recirculate indoor air.
  • Consider using HEPA air cleaners indoors to reduce overall smoke exposure.
  • Maintain an adequate supply of food and medication (more than five days).
  • If you have a chronic lung or heart condition, check with your health care providers before the fire season about precautions to take during smoke events.
  • Do not perform any activities that will add to indoor pollution.
  • Use the air recirculate feature in vehicles when possible.
  • If traveling, be aware of the air quality in the area and have a back-up plan.
  • Click here for information about how to protect your health during wildfire season.

Click here to view the latest air quality readings from across Montana.