Breathe easy? Lewis and Clark County receives an ‘F’ in air quality

Posted at 2:21 PM, May 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-02 16:22:18-04

HELENA– Lewis and Clark County’s air quality was given an “F” by the American Lung Association of Montana.

This year’s State of the Airreport revealed that 13 Montana counties received F’s, while Yellowstone County Received a D. The main reason being high concentrations of PM 2.5 during fire season.

“Montanans have been dealing with wildfire smoke for generations, that’s nothing new,” Gallatin City-County Health Official Matt Kelley said. “What is new is the wildfire season is longer which means we have more intense fires and it can create more smoke and that creates health questions and health concerns that may be more serious than they were in the past.”

The cause for the low grade usually isn’t a year-round concern. A quick look at the Montana Department of Environmental Quality’s website shows the air quality is very good and it’s encouraged for you to get outside.

“If you’re paying attention on a day-to-day basis absolutely it’s safe to be outside, are there days when air quality Is pretty cruddy and people should dial back their activity? Absolutely,” Kelley added.

“These days are common when we’re under a dome of high pressure where conditions are dry, sunny, and warm can be particularly bad because those pollutants can sit near the ground,” Kelley said.

Emissions can also aggravate the air quality, but there are ways that you can curb those emissions to help yourself and the air we breathe.

“If you have a woodfire stove, making sure that it’s burning efficiently and isn’t causing pollution in the home, knowing what radon levels are in your home, where Montana is a radon risky knowing those radon levels because radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, “Kelley said.

Reporting by Carson Vickroy for MTN News