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Wildfires impacts air quality in Lincoln, Sanders counties

deq air quality
Posted at 2:10 PM, Aug 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-12 16:10:54-04

HELENA — The air quality in Sanders and Lincoln Counties has reached unhealthy levels over the last 24 hours, according to the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

The reduced air quality in Sanders County is a result of smoke caused by the Thorne Creek fire while smoke from the South Yaak Fire -- as well as fires burning in Idaho and eastern Washington -- are impacting Lincoln County. DEQ reports air quality has ranged from “unhealthy for sensitive groups” to “hazardous” in these areas.

When air quality is unhealthy, active children and adults, and people who have a chronic condition, such as asthma or another respiratory disease, or cardiovascular disease, should avoid prolonged outdoor exertion. For hazardous air quality, it is recommended that all children and adults should avoid or limit outdoor 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.

Click here for information about how to protect your health during wildfire season.