The smoky air permeating Missoula County was deemed “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups" on Friday.
The Missoula City-County Health Department issued the advisory at 3 p.m. Friday afternoon, citing smoke from Canadian wildfires. More than two dozen fires are currently burning in Alberta, the Associated Press reported Friday. Their smoke has drifted south into Montana, the Dakotas, Washington state and Wyoming.
"This is way too early in the year and I am still in a state of denial," air quality specialist Ben Schmidt wrote in the email announcing the advisory, echoing sentiments heard around the region Friday.
When air quality is listed as “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” the press release explained, “people with heart or lung disease, children and the elderly should limit prolonged outdoor exertion. Anyone experiencing symptoms of heart or lung disease associated with smoke exposure should contact their health care provider.”
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As of Friday afternoon, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality also listed air quality in Butte and Seeley Lake as being Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups. Air quality was deemed Moderate in the Flathead Valley, Libby, Thompson Falls, Dillon and Frenchtown.
In Missoula, Schmidt wrote that “air quality may still improve later this afternoon if the smoke starts to lift. The smoke may linger through the weekend, but we should be back to good air quality by Monday. This is weather dependent, so no guarantees on this.”
Visit todaysair.mt.gov for up-to-date air quality information.