Montana’s September Air Quality: Some of the Worst in America
With burning eyes, runny noses, and our AQIs hitting the 170s on several occasions in recent days...Montanans could really go for an old-school, heavy snowstorm right about now. A big one. With many inches of accumulation.
Pay attention to our local air quality. Levels of particulate matter have been extremely high the last several weeks. But air quality and AQI numbers can change very quickly. A morning of blue skies can devolve into yellowish clouds of wildfire smoke in a matter of hours. (Butte made the Top 10 Worst AQIs in the country on Thursday night!)
- September 10th - Butte AQI = 162
- September 10th - Bozeman AQI = 107
- September 10th - East Helena = 166
- September 10th - Wolf Creek AQI = 170
- September 10th - Great Falls AQI = 166
- September 10th - Polson AQI = 163
Keep your indoor air as clean as possible. Many of us don't have fancy air filtration systems or air conditioners, so we're dependent on open doors and windows during "cooler hours" to keep the house tolerable the rest of the day. Not so fast. When the air quality is really bad, DO NOT keep the windows and doors open. You're essentially filling your home with all the dirty particles from outside wildfires.
Take a break from the chores! No, really. When air quality is bad, the EPA advises not to vacuum the house, cook anything on the stove or oven, or even burn candles. All of those things can reduce the quality of air inside your house. When things are already dangerous outside, keep your inside air as 'calm' and clean as possible. Perfect excuse for a TV binge!
Where are the wildfires burning now? You can check the location of all wildfires in the country by checking the Incident Information System map. (The map below is accurate as of September 10th, 2021.)
Keep yourself hydrated when the air quality is bad. Sure, drinking a lot of water is always a good idea but keeping your throat, mouth, nose and soft tissues 'hydrated' is super important. It really will make you feel better and cough less. Our bodies are 60% water...now we just have to keep that water clean and well-cycled.
Masks don't really help with this stuff. The smoky skies that Montana is experiencing is different than the pollution of Beijing. But according to the EPA, very few masks or face coverings are helpful in these wildfire conditions. "Paper “dust” masks or surgical masks will not protect your lungs from the fine particles in wildfire smoke. Scarves or bandanas (wet or dry) won’t help, either. Particulate masks known as N-95 or P-100 respirators will help, but they must fit well and be used correctly."