HELENA — A continued influx of wildfire smoke has prompted the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to issue an Air Quality Alert for much of Western Montana.
The alert – which is in effect until further notice – covers Lake, Lincoln, Mineral, Missoula, Ravalli, and Sanders counties.
The air quality on Friday morning was listed as very unhealthy while Lincoln County was considered unhealthy. Air quality was Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups while Columbia Falls, Dillon, Missoula and Seeley Lake were seeing moderate air quality.
When air quality is Very Unhealthy it’s recommended that people with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly, and children should avoid any outdoor activity. Everyone else should avoid prolonged exertion.
When air quality is Unhealthy health officials recommend that people with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly, and children should avoid prolonged exertion. Everyone else should limit prolonged exertion.
When air quality is Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups it’s recommended that people with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly and children should limit prolonged exertion.
When air quality is unhealthy, DPHHS and DEQ encourage people to use the following tips to protect their health:
- 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.