Montana Air Quality A Concern In September 2022
Labor Day weekend will see the unofficial adios to summer 2022, and while the calendar may denote this as well as the upcoming official beginning of autumn (September 22nd) this doesn't mean the end of fire season or concerns for air quality in Montana's Missoula, Ravalli, and Lake Counties.
Montana's Department of Natural Resources & Conservation maintains an interactive map HERE, and the pictures it paints for the end of summer in Western Montana are worth noting:
Lake County's Garceau and Elmo fires remain the most prominent, both add up to just under 28,000 acres burned.
The wildfire-prone east central Idaho fires have spread into Ravalli County just as they did last year, with six active fires west of Hamilton 0% contained :
- Kootenai Creek
- Ten Mile
- Mill Lake
- Big Creek (discovered on August 31st)
Air Quality For Labor Day Weekend
Where there's fire, there's also smoke. This means decreased air quality for Western Montana as shown in this map from Washington State University's Airpact-5 air quality tracker:
The link to the interactive air quality maps is HERE
The deeper the blue, the less PM2.5s (particulate matters present in the air) are present. The closer you get to dark red, PM2.5 is more highly concentrated. An unsafe level of particulates begins in the orange areas (above 35 PM2.5)
How Can I Stay Safe?
The Montana DEQ maintains several air quality monitors (Frenchtown, Missoula Station, Seeley Lake, Hamilton) and as of September 2nd, all are reading moderate air quality for Labor Day weekend. There are several things you can do to protect your lungs and health in smoky or hazy outdoor air, which include...
Those masks could help, even outdoors when you fire up the grill
People with existing respiratory illnesses should follow the recommendations of their doctor. Other measures include getting a HEPA filter.