Montana’s air quality has worsened this week due to fires burning in Oregon and California. State public health officials urge people across the state to take precautions as the potential for poor air quality reaches unhealthy levels in the coming days.
The Department of Environmental Quality’s Air Quality Bureau is predicting weather that could bring prolonged wildfire smoke exposure to communities in the state. Smoke levels can rise and fall depending on weather factors, including wind direction.
“The wildfire smoke in the area may increase one's health risk, especially for older adults, young children, and people with asthma, respiratory, or heart conditions,” said DPHHS State Medical Officer Greg Holzman.
Public health officials urge all Montanans to take the following precautions to avoid health problems during smoky conditions.
- Reduce the amount of time spent outdoors. This can usually provide some protection, especially in a tightly closed, air-conditioned house in which the air conditioner can be set to re-circulate air instead of bringing in outdoor air.
- Reduce the amount of time engaged in vigorous outdoor physical activity. This can be an important and effective strategy to decrease exposure to inhaled air pollutants and minimize health risks during a smoke event.
- Reduce other sources of indoor air pollution such as burning cigarettes and candles; using gas, propane, and wood burning stoves and furnaces; cooking; and vacuuming.
- Individuals with heart disease or lung diseases such as asthma should follow their health care providers’ advice about prevention and treatment of symptoms.