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Air quality takes a hit in areas of Montana due to wildfire smoke

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Poor Air Quality
Posted at 9:51 AM, Sep 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-10 11:51:53-04

GREAT FALLS — Air quality took a hit across many areas of Montana on Thursday, September 9, 2021.

The National Weather Service in Great Falls said that smoke and haze from wildfires in southwestern Montana and Idaho, as well as wildfire smoke from Oregon and northern California, have "pivoted" around an upper level high pressure area centered over the Great Basin; the conditions are expected to last for several days.

According to the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, air quality was rated UNHEALTHY in Great Falls, White Sulphur Springs, Butte, Bozeman, Seeley Lake, and Broadus.

UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS levels were reported in many locations, including Helena, Missoula, Miles City, Thompson Falls, and Libby.

Several areas across the state were listed at MODERATE levels of air quality, including Cut Bank, the Flathead Valley, Dillon, and West Yellowstone.

Here is an explanation from MT DEQ about the different categories:

  • HAZARDOUS: All children and adults should avoid or limit all outdoor exertion
  • VERY UNHEALTHY: Active children and adults, and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma, should avoid all outdoor exertion; everyone else, especially children, should limit outdoor exertion
  • UNHEALTHY: Active children and adults, and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma, should avoid prolonged outdoor exertion; everyone else, especially children, should limit prolonged outdoor exertion
  • UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS: Active children and adults, and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma, should limit prolonged outdoor exertion
  • MODERATE: Unusually sensitive people should consider limiting prolonged outdoor exertion

When air quality is UNHEALTHY, people with heart or lung disease, smokers, children, and the elderly should limit heavy or prolonged exertion and limit time spent outdoors. People with asthma should follow their asthma management plan. People experiencing symptoms of heart or lung disease associated with smoke exposure should contact their healthcare provider.

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When air quality is UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS, people with heart or lung disease, children and the elderly should limit prolonged outdoor exertion. Anyone experiencing symptoms of heart or lung disease associated with smoke exposure should contact their health care provider.

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