Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Montana News
Wildfire, fire management and air quality news for western Montana and the Northern Rockies.

Missoula Among Worst In U.S. For Short-Term Particulate Pollution

Government data from 2012 through 2014 shows worsening air quality in many Montana counties including: Flathead, Lewis and Clark, Lincoln, Missoula, Ravalli and Richland Counties.
Josh Burnham
/
Government data from 2012 through 2014 shows worsening air quality in many Montana counties including: Flathead, Lewis and Clark, Lincoln, Missoula, Ravalli and Richland Counties.

The American Lung Association says among America’s cities, Missoula’s air is the tenth dirtiest. That’s for a specific form of pollution.

The Lung Association says short-term particle pollution, the kind that comes from sources like tailpipe emissions, and wildfire smoke, is getting worse in many places.

American Lung Association’s Paul Billings.

"Unfortunately on far too many days thousands of Montanans are breathing dirty air that can harm their health.” 

Billings says government data from 2012 through 2014 shows worsening air quality in many Montana counties including: Flathead, Lewis and Clark, Lincoln, Missoula, Ravalli and Richland Counties. Billings says it’s compromising the health of children, the elderly and those with preexisting conditions.

Ben Schmidt is an air quality specialist with the Missoula City/County Health Department. Schmidt says government officials calculate air quality violations differently than the Lung Association.

Even so, he says the group makes a good point.

"With the changing climate we have fire seasons that last much longer. We have drier summers typically; the snowpack also melts off quicker. Because of all these factors people are going to get more wildfire smoke than they’ve historically seen and this does impact people’s health.”

The American Lung Association’s approach to improving air quality includes reducing both particulate and greenhouse gas pollution.

Related Content