Air quality takes a hit in parts of Montana

Air quality is taking a hit in parts of the state, according to the Montana Department of Environmental Quality.

The Great Falls National Weather Service says a significant amount of smoke and haze, mostly from wildfires burning in Oregon and Idaho, is flowing through much of Montana, causing a decrease in the quality air.

The DEQ has issued an air quality alert until 8 a.m. Monday, September 5 for the following counties: Beaverhead, Flathead, Lake, Lincoln, Mineral, Missoula, Ravalli and Sanders.

As of 7 a.m. on Sunday, September 4, 2022, according to DEQ, the air quality is assessed as follows:

  • Unhealthy (red) in Hamilton.
  • Unhealthy for sensitive groups (orange) in Libby, Flathead Valley, Missoula, Butte, Helena, and Lewistown.
  • Moderate (yellow) in Great Falls, Cut Bank, Malta, Seeley Lake, Dillon, Bozeman and Billings.

Most other areas in the state are currently listed at “good” or “moderate” air quality levels.

Here are the six color-coded classifications of air quality according to the DEQ:

  • BROWN: Dangerous – Health warning of emergency conditions: everyone is more likely to be affected.
  • PURPLE: Very unhealthy – health alert – the risk of health effects is increased for everyone.
  • RED: unhealthy – some members of the general public may experience health effects; members of sensitive groups may experience more severe health effects.
  • ORANGE: unhealthy for sensitive groups – members of sensitive groups may experience health effects. The general public is less likely to be affected.
  • YELLOW: Moderate – air quality is acceptable. However, there may be a risk for some people, especially those who are particularly sensitive to air pollution.
  • GREEN: Good – air quality is satisfactory and air pollution poses little or no risk.

When the air quality is DANGEROUS, all children and adults should avoid or limit all exertion outdoors.

When the air quality is VERY UNHEALTHY, active children and adults, and people with respiratory conditions, such as asthma, should avoid all outdoor exertion; everyone, especially children, should limit outdoor exertion.

When the air quality is NOT HEALTHY, people with heart or lung disease, smokers, children and the elderly should limit strenuous or prolonged exertion and limit time spent outdoors. People with asthma should follow their asthma management plan. People with symptoms of heart or lung disease associated with smoke exposure should contact their health care provider.

When the air quality is NOT HEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS, people with heart or lung conditions, children and the elderly should limit prolonged outdoor exertion. Anyone with symptoms of heart or lung disease associated with smoke exposure should contact their health care provider.

When air quality is MODERATE, particularly sensitive individuals should consider limiting prolonged outdoor exertion.

When the air quality is GOOD, no health impacts are expected when the air quality is within this range

Click here visit the MT DEQ air quality site for more information.


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