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Air Quality - Air Quality Status Report


Air quality in the Missoula Valley is Moderate for the short term (1-hour) exposure and Very Unhealthy for the long-term, cumulative exposure.  

August 30, 2015, 9 AM

Conditions have improved to Moderate for the short-term exposure Very Unhealthy for the cumulative long term exposure.

 

The Bitterroot has seen more smoke than we have, and conditions in Hamilton are currently Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups for the short-term exposure and Hazardous for any prolonged exposure.  

 

There are a few fires burning along the Montana/Idaho border near Highway 12 that have plumes pointed straight at us.  The Boulder, Jay Point, and the West Fork Fish Creek Fire (southwest of Alberton in Mineral County) were all active Friday.  These fires are about 3,000 - 4,000 acres today.  The Boulder Fire is now about 5,000 acres.

 

Several larger fires burning southwest of us in Idaho also continue to send smoke our direction.  The Tepee Springs Fire saw an impressive run Thursday afternoon, and it continued to actively burn Friday.  The Selway, Wilderness and Lochsa South Complexes were also actively burning Friday.  The Lochsa South Complex, in particular, sent out a significant plume of smoke Friday.  You can see it in Friday's color satellite photo - the plume follows Highway 12 and heads straight for Lolo.

 

 

Hopefully air quality will not woren too much on Sunday due to the high pressure ridge breaking down and the the arrival of a cold front which will help improve smoke dispersion.  However, we are downwind of a lot of fires, and the winds associated with the cold front are likely to increase fire activity and may deposit smoke in our valleys. 

 

 

Because conditions may vary, residents are encouraged to use visibility as a guideline to help gauge air quality at their location and make decisions about activity levels accordingly.  Pick a landmark with good contrast at a known distance.  Once you can't detect it at all, it is no longer visible. As a general rule: if you can't see more than five miles with the sun at your back, the air is likely Unhealthy and you should rein in outdoor activity levels.  Also, you can check out near-real time data (an hour old) at Today's Air

 

 

PHOTOS and MAPS

Friday's color satellite photo shows the large amount of smoke covering the region from fires burning in Idaho and Montana.  The Lochsa South Complex sent a lot of smoke our direction today.


Sunday morning's black and white satellite photo shows a mixture of smoke and clouds over the region.  Most of the gray, murky haze over Missoula County is going to be smoke.
Wildfire Smoke

The Bitterroot Valley is still seeing a lot of smoke. Here's the view from Stevensville's webcam :
main real-time visibility image

 

 

 

 

 

Woodstove restrictions are not in effect for the Missoula Air Stagnation Zone at this time

Inside the Missoula Air Stagnation Zone (Air Stagnation Zone as .jpg) visible emissions are currently allowed from woodstoves, fireplaces or other solid fuel burning devices.  The department request that people who do use their stoves burn as cleanly as possible.

 

During a Stage II Air Warning, woodstove restrictions are in effect for Impact Zone M (outlined in red).  See Stage II Air Warning pamphlet for more information.

 

This web page is not updated on weekends or holidays unless air quality becomes Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups or worse.  Call the air quality hotline at 258-3600 on weekends to get the most current air quality update.

 

If you operate a woodstove, fireplace or other solid-fuel burning device, you will want to get in the habit of checking this web page or the Air Quality hotline (258-3600) for up-to-date changes in Missoula's air quality.  Woodstoves, fireplaces and other solid-fuel burning devices are restricted during alerts and warnings.

 

Seeley Lake particulate air quality can be highly variable, so consult the "Today's Air" web page for the most current information.  High levels of air pollution are typically localized at the neighborhood scale in Seeley Lake; regional air quality is usually better than the neighborhood scale air quality measured at the elementary school.  The Seeley Lake air monitor shown on "Today's Air" is located at the elementary school playground.

 

This web page is not updated on weekends or holidays unless air quality becomes Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups or worse.  Call the air quality hotline at 258-3600 on weekends to get the most current air quality update.

 

Air Alerts and Warnings informational pamphlets:

Stage I Air Alert

Stage II Air Warning

If you are being affected by smoke please use the visibility guidelines to determine your exposure levels and adjust your activity levels accordingly. Anyone experiencing heart or lung distress related to smoke exposure is advised to contact their health care provider.

Over the weekend please call the Air Quality Hotline at 258-3600 for updates as this website will be inactive over weekends and holidays.

Hourly monitoring data can be viewed here at the Montana Department of Environmental Quality Today's Air Website.            Today's Air

Air quality categories are as follows:

During wildfires, air quality conditions change rapidly depending on wind direction and proximity to fires. Other areas of the county may have different levels of air quality. Please use the visibility guidelines to evaluate the conditions at your location.

You can also use the visibility guidelines to check your local conditions.

Emergency Episode Avoidance Plan

Air Quality Status is based on 1-3 hour or 8-hour average particulate matter levels. The following chart outlines health effects, cautionary statements, and recommended actions for each air quality category.

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Air Quality
Categories
Particulate
Matter Level
(in micrograms per cubic meter)
Visibility
Ranges
Health Effects Cautionary
Statements
Action
GOOD 0-19
8-hour average

0-34
1-3 hour average
13 Miles and up None None None
MODERATE 19-29
8-hour average

34-51
1-3 hour average
9 to 13 Miles Possible aggravation of heart and lung disease None None
UNHEALTHY FOR
SENSITIVE GROUPS
29-51
8-hour average

51-89
1-3 hour average
5 to 9 miles Increasing likelihood of symptoms in sensitive individuals, aggravation of heart or lung disease and premature death in persons with cardiopulmonary disease, smokers and the elderly.  People with heart or lung disease, smokers, children and the elderly should:
limit prolonged exposure
None
UNHEALTHY 51-115
8 hour average

89-201
1-3 hour average
2.25 to 5 miles Increased aggravation of heart or lung disease and premature death in persons with cardiopulmonary disease, smokers and the elderly; increased respiratory effects in general population. People with heart or lung disease, smokers, children and the elderly should:

· limit heavy or prolonged exertion; and

· limit time spent outdoors.

People with asthma should follow asthma management plan.

People experiencing symptoms of heart or lung disease associated with smoke exposure should contact their health care provider.
Outdoor burning, incinerators and non-permitted stove use suspended.

Advise industrial, commercial and construction sources to operate as cleanly as possible.
VERY UNHEALTHY 115-195
8 hr. average

201-339
1-3 hour average
1.25 to 2 miles Significant aggravation of heart or lung disease and premature death in persons with cardiopulmonary disease, smokers, and the elderly; significant increase in respiratory effects in general population. People with heart or lung disease, smokers, children and the elderly should

· avoid heavy or prolonged exertion; and

· stay indoors when possible

People with asthma should follow asthma management plan.

People experiencing symptoms of heart or lung disease associated with smoke exposure should contact their health care provider.

Everyone else should:

· limit prolonged exertion and

· limit time spent outdoors.
Outdoor burning, incinerators and non-permitted stove use suspended.

Advise industrial, commercial and construction sources to operate as cleanly as possible

Recommend no outdoor activity for persons under 18

Recommend cancellation of outdoor public gatherings, especially athletic events, activities, and practices
HAZARDOUS 195+
8 hr. average

339+
1-3 hour average
1.25 miles or less Serious aggravation of heart or lung disease and premature mortality in persons with cardiopulmonary disease, smokers, and the elderly; serious risk of respiratory effects in general population. People with heart or lung disease, smokers, children and the elderly should avoid any outdoor activity.

People with asthma should follow asthma management plan.

People experiencing symptoms of heart or lung disease associated with smoke exposure should contact their health care provider.

Everyone else should:

· avoid heavy and prolonged exertion and

· limit time spent outdoors.
Outdoor burning, incinerators and non-permitted stove use suspended.

Advise industrial, commercial and construction sources to operate as cleanly as possible

Recommend no outdoor activity for persons under 18

All (indoor and outdoor) athletic events, activities and practices canceled.

The department may also institute any of the advisories and requirements listed in the Missoula County Air Stagnation Plan, if deemed necessary to protect public health.

For additional wildfire smoke health information, visit our Wildfire Smoke Information page.

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