Indoor Air Quality
Indoor air quality is a frequently overlooked but important component of public health. Harmful particulate from wildfires, secondhand smoke, lead paint, and woodburning stoves can cause lasting damage to respiratory health and result in chronic disease. At risk populations are particularly vulnerable. One substantial way to maintain a healthy home is to keep it smokefree, whether it’s a private home or an apartment. To protect the health and well-being of all residents in Lewis and Clark County, our Prevention Team in partnership with our Environmental Health Team, advocates for and educates the public on the importance of smoke and lead-free homes and promotes smoke free housing policies in our county.
There is no safe amount of secondhand smoke exposure, and the home is the main place many children and adults are exposed. Secondhand smoke can cause damage and disease in virtually every organ in the body. Additionally, thirdhand smoke or the toxic residue that persists in the air and on surfaces such as carpeting, furniture and walls when people smoke inside can continue to harm the health of residents, particularly young children for several months. Pets also are at risk from secondhand and thirdhand smoke.
Smokefree Housing Resources
Public and private multi-unit housing facilities across Montana and the nation have moved to solve this problem by making their properties, including individual units, smokefree. The Montana Tobacco Use Prevention Program offers FREE smokefree housing resources and support for residents and housing providers. For more information, contact [TES contact information] or visittobaccofree.mt.gov.
Wood Stoves and Your Health
Wood smoke can affect everyone, but the populations known to be at greater risk include: children, teenagers, older adults, people with lung disease -- including asthma and COPD, people with heart disease, and outdoor workers. It's important to limit your exposure to smoke—especially if you are more susceptible than others.
Smoke may smell good, but it's not good for you. The biggest health threat from smoke is from fine particles, also called fine particulate matter or PM2.5. These microscopic particles can get into your eyes, respiratory system, and cardiovascular system.
The more efficiently you burn wood (e.g., using an EPA-certified wood stove and dry, seasoned wood) the less smoke is created and the less you and you family breathe in.
Learn before you burn. Burn the right wood, the right way, in the right appliance.
- Save money and time. Burn only dry, seasoned wood and maintain a hot fire.
- Have a certified technician inspect and service your appliance annually.
- Keep your home healthy by upgrading to an efficient, EPA-approved wood-burning appliance.
- Remember to check your local air quality before you burn.
Click here to learn more about the health effects of wood smoke
Lead Exposure and Education
Lead can be found in all parts of our environment – the air, the soil, the water, and even inside our homes. Lead can affect almost every organ and system in your body. Children six years old and younger are most susceptible to the effects of lead. To learn more about lead and related safety tips, please visit our Lead Education and Assistance page.
Montana Asthma Program
You might be one of the approximately 100,000 people in Montana who have asthma. Learning more about your asthma can help you take control; with well-controlled asthma, you can live a full, active life and experience few troubling symptoms. We don’t know all the things that can cause asthma, but we do know that genetic, environmental, and occupational factors have been linked to developing asthma. Being exposed to things in the environment, like mold or dampness, some allergens such as dust mites, and secondhand tobacco smoke have been linked to developing asthma. Air pollution and viral lung infection may also lead to asthma.
If you're interested in applying for the Montana Asthma Control Program, please use this statewide self-referral form: https://app.chronicdiseasedata.org/emap-selfreferral/default.aspx