air quality

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.


Today's air quality report from Missoula City-County Air Quality Specialist Sarah Coefield:

"Good morning, We woke up to yet another day of white skies and muted light. Some of us had the added bonus of stale campfire smell, which means there's a bit more local smoke making its way to the Missoula Valley this morning. (When you can see the smoke, but you can't smell the smoke, the odds are pretty good it was generated by distant fires. The volatile organic chemicals that give smoke that acrid taste and smell don't travel very well.)

Flathead Cross Country Meet Canceled Due To Wildire Smoke
Montana DEQ

A popular high school cross country meet in the Flathead has been canceled due to wildfire smoke. It’s not the only high school sport facing adverse impacts from poor air quality.

Steve Mollenhoff

Today's air quality update from Missoula City-County Air Quality Specialist, Sarah Coefield:

"Good morning, The smoke is thick, the inversions are strong, and the Smoke Spiral is still rotating overhead. It's messy out there, folks.


Today's air quality update from Missoula City/County Air Quality Specialist Sarah Coefield:

"Good morning, It's bad out there today. 

An organization that's usually focused on bear conservation is raising money for air filters for schools in Frenchtown.

Missoula-based Bear Trust International is about $3,000 away from its goal of raising about $8,200 to place air filters in all 32 Frenchtown classrooms. A press release says the need is acute because there is no air conditioning in Frenchtown schools, so teachers have to open windows to moderate temperatures.


Today's air quality update from Missoula City-County Air Quality Specialist, Sarah Coefield:

"The air is bad, and it's bad pretty much everywhere. The places that aren't bad will be bad soon.

A plane flies over the Rice Ridge Fire near Seeley Lake, MT, August 8, 2017.

Wildfire smoke has inundated communities across western Montana this summer and officials are worried about its impacts on human health, physical and otherwise.

Missoula City-County Air Quality Specialist Sarah Coefield understands the negative health impacts of air pollution better than most, but even she was startled by its impacts earlier this week.