Western Montana Air Quality Makes “Worst AQI” List Again
After a weekend of decent blue skies, towns in western Montana are back to 'Very Unhealthy" air quality index numbers of 200+. The skies are hazy and you can taste the smoke in the air.
On Monday morning, just about every place west of Billings was dealing with some level of unhealthy air...the further west you went, the worse the air quality. Bozeman, Butte and Helena were generally hovering between 150 and 200 with some spots waking up to 200+. (The monitor at my neighbor's house in Bozeman read AQI of 207 at 4am on Monday morning.)
Areas south of Missoula were of utmost concern. The AQI for small towns in the valley were well above 200, with a few meters measuring 300+. Precautions should be taken if you're unable to avoid the area. According to the EPA, these are the levels of air quality concern:
What to do when air quality is this bad? Simply use your noggin and don't exert yourself too much, even if you're a healthy person. It's time for common sense
If you are advised to stay indoors, take steps to keep indoor air as clean as possible. When smoke levels are high, try to avoid using anything that burns, such as wood fireplaces, gas logs, gas stoves - and even candles!
Don't vacuum. That stirs up particles already inside your home. And don't smoke. That puts even more pollution in your lungs, and in the lungs of people around you.
If you have an air conditioner, it's fine to run it. The air will get sent through the filter before entering your home. (Good time to change any filters, btw!) If you don't have air conditioning, keeping windows and doors closed in recommended. Stuffy air is better than all the particulates in the Montana air right now.