(See the Visibility Chart at the bottom of this page for more information about how to assess air quality and its impacts on health.)

The Environmental Services Division of the health department monitors year-round the fine-particulate air pollution in the Air Pollution Control District (see map at right).

It also enforces local outdoor air-quality regulations 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.

Get Current Air Quality Conditions

Burn Clean

•  Burning Indoors and Outdoors

•  How to Burn Your Stove Cleanly

•  EPA-Certified Stoves

•  EPA BurnWise Website

The following videos are courtesy of the State of Washington Clean Air Agencies.
 Windows Media Player is required for viewing.

•  Choosing a New Stove for Home Heating (4 minutes, 52 seconds)

•  Operating Your Wood Stove More Efficiently (4 minutes, 24 seconds) 

Health Effects of Smoke

•  Health Effects of Air Pollution

•  Smoke and Health Effects in Children

•  Activity Guidelines for Smoke Events

•  Coping with Wildfire Smoke


 Other Information

•  Today's Air (MT Department of Environmental Quality)

•  How to Use Today's Air Website  (YouTube)

•  2012 Residential Wood Burning Survey

Visibility Chart and Health Recommendations 

Some communities, like Helena, have air-quality programs and use monitoring equipment to determine whether air quality is good or bad. But smoke 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.

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.



Find Us

Environmental Services
City-County Building
316 North Park, Room 230
Helena, MT 59623
Fax: 406-447-8398

Do You Live in the Air Pollution Control District?

Click here to find out!

(click on map to enlarge)

Outdoor Air Quality

Text of Regulations

Exemption Request Form