MTPR

air quality

A closeup satellite image shows a thick layer of wildfire smoke covering Idaho and Montana, September 4, 2017.
NOAA

The latest American Lung Association air quality report shows some Montana communities continue to have unhealthy levels of air pollution on a national scale. Wildfires are the main culprit.

According the Lung Association’s most recent "State of the Air" report, the city of Missoula ranks as the 12th most polluted city in the nation for short-term particle pollution.

A closeup satellite image shows a thick layer of wildfire smoke covering Idaho and Montana, September 4, 2017.
NOAA

Montana researchers who are looking into the impact of wildfire smoke on people's health, and on firefighters' resiliency updated the public on their work Tuesday at the University of Montana. 

Dr. Paul Smith is a professor of medicine at UM, and a pediatric pulmonologist. 

"Anecdotally, this is one of the worse seasons we've had at Community Medical Center for kids being admitted and on ventilators. Our floor has just been chock full this season. And, you wonder," said Smith. 

Amy Cilimburg, the director of Climate Smart Missoula, helped Seeley Lake residents Joy and Don Dunagan get a HEPA air filter through a partnership with the Missoula City-County Health Department.
Nora Saks

This past wildfire season, unprecedented amounts of wildfire smoke in communities across western Montana threw public health agencies a curveball.

Yesterday, we dove into what we know and are still learning about the long term health impacts of exposure to wildfire smoke. Today, we’re looking at what it would take to provide filtered air to the most vulnerable Montanans.

Widlfire smoke fills the sky in Seeley Lake August  7, 2017.
Eric Whitney

This summer, Missoula County had its worst wildfire smoke season on record. It’s unclear how exactly that impacted the health of county residents, both as the fires were burning and longer term, but researchers are starting to pull in some data.

Frenchtown kindergarten teacher Justine Luebke shows off a brand new HEPA air filtration unit that will help purify the air in her classroom.
Nora Saks

Now that fire season has extended into the school year, many western Montana schools have been keeping kids inside because of heavy smoke. But that doesn’t mean they’re breathing clean air. Some community partnerships are springing up to try to get air filters into more classrooms.

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