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Public health leaders: Be mindful of wildfire smoke in Helena Valley

Posted at 5:07 PM, Aug 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-02 19:07:49-04

(HELENA) With wildfire smoke filling the Helena Valley, Lewis and Clark Public Health is reminding people to be mindful of air quality.

Air quality in the Helena area briefly dipped to the “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” level Thursday morning, before improving later in the day.

Jay Plant, an environmental health specialist with Lewis and Clark Public Health, said sensitive groups can include older people, some children and those with conditions affecting the heart and lungs. He said those people should limit their outdoor activity when the air quality is at its worst.

“It doesn’t mean you can’t go outside – just that you want to limit the amount of time you’re out there,” he said.

He said people may also want to keep their windows closed and use their air conditioners when possible.

Currently, much of the smoke in the Helena area s coming from wildfires in Idaho, Oregon and California. Plant said, right now, most of it is high in the atmosphere, which is reducing the impact on people’s health impact.

“We do have the potential, depending on weather, that that smoke could come down closer to ground level, which could take us, depending on how long it lasts, into “Unhealthy,” he said.

Lewis and Clark Public Health operates an automated air quality hotline at (406) 447-1644, which they try to update regularly with the latest information. They also have an email notification list. You can find out how to sign up by going to the agency’s website.