Air Quality in the Helena Valley

The Environmental Health Division of Lewis and Clark Public Health monitors year-round the fine-particulate air pollution in the Air Pollution Control District 

It also enforces local outdoor air-quality regulations(PDF, 498KB)  that were adopted to protect the health of area residents by controlling emissions of fine particulate pollution, also known as PM2.5

Fine-particulate air pollution includes soot, combustion byproducts, and liquid pollutants in the air.

Exposure to fine particulates can harm human health, especially among individuals with existing lung diseases. Studies have linked fine-particulate pollution to an increase in hospital admissions and emergency room visits.

Current Air Quality Conditions

Helena Air Quality for Mobile Helena Air Quality for Desktop Statewide Air Quality Dashboard

Call the Air Quality Hotline at 406-447-1644


For more information visit our Air Quality Resource Page

On this page you will find resources about:

  • Burning indoors and outdoors
  • Air pollution from wildfires
  • Health effects of poor air quality

Visibility Chart and Health Recommendations

Although the Helena Pollution Control District has live monitoring stations to determine air quality conditions, those conditions can change quickly. Published air-quality reports may not keep up with these changes. Sometimes visibility – how far you can see through the smoke – can be a better way to determine health hazards.  See the chart below for a general reference on visibility and air quality.

Air Quality Status Visibility Recommendation
Good 13 miles or more Enjoy outdoor activities. No limitations.
Moderate 9-13 miles May make existing heart or lung disease worse.
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups 5-9 miles Increased likelihood of breathing problems in sensitive people, including those with heart or lung disease, the elderly, and children. These individuals should limit strenuous activity outside.
Unhealthy for All Groups 2-5 miles Increased breathing problems in the general population as well as in those with heart or lung disease. The elderly and people with heart or lung disease should avoid prolonged exertion outdoors. The general population should limit prolonged exertion outdoors.
Very Unhealthy/
Less than 2 miles Serious increase in breathing problems, even in healthy people. Premature death possible in the elderly and people with heart or lung disease. Sensitive people should stay indoors. Everyone should avoid all outdoor exertion.