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2017 Missoula smoke

Smoke from surrounding wildfires lingers in the Missoula Valley in 2017. While Montana's fire season is predicted to be mild, smoke could still be a problem due to fire activity in Washington and Canada. 

There’s good news for this year’s fire season, though Missoula County wants to make sure you’re prepared for smoke, anyhow.

According to a July 18 report from City-County Health Department air quality specialist Sarah Coefield, Montana’s fire season shouldn’t be too bad.

“It’s supposed to be an average fire year and a potentially cooler and wetter summer than we typically see,” Coefield wrote. “(And yeah, that feels right. I, for one, greatly resented turning my heat on in June).”

She went on to point out, however, that Washington is predicted to have a worse-than-average fire year, and is one of the states that most commonly sends smoke into our valley.

Remember, if you will, the smoky, hazy day from earlier this spring. That was smoke from Canada, meaning fewer fires don't necessarily mean less smoke — just less of our smoke.

Coefield still highly recommended getting a portable air cleaner with a HEPA filter if you don’t already have one, along with making sure drafty windows and doors are sealed just as tightly as during the winter.

Wildfire smoke affects infants, the elderly and pregnant women more than others, and Coefield noted that as wildfire smoke becomes a yearly problem, issues with asthma and those with heart and lung disease may worsen.

Aside from major health issues, Coefield said smoke triggers an inflammatory response similar to when one has a cold, making people feel just generally “crummy,” as their body works to fight off the smoke particulates. A well-sealed house with clean air is the best way to combat this.

Coefield’s updates, which are posted more frequently the deeper into fire season we get, can be found on the Missoula County website, by navigating the air quality section of the health department. The exact URL is missoulacounty.us/government/health/health-department/home-environment/air-quality/wildfire-smoke-resources-and-blog.

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