(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
- Call the Air Quality Hotline at 406-447-1644
- Sign up for e-mail notifications by contacting outdoorAQ(at)lccountymt.gov
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
• Today's Air (MT Department of Environmental Quality)
• How to Use Today's Air Website (YouTube)
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.|
|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.|