JOINT NEWS RELEASE: DPHHS AND DEQ
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 30, 2017
Jon Ebelt, DPHHS, Public Information Officer, 406-444-0936 or 461-3757
Jeni Garcin, DEQ, 406-444-6469
Public health officials: Follow recommendations for outdoor activities
HELENA – State health officials stressed today the importance of following recommendations for outdoor activities based on air quality as Montana’s unrelenting wildfire season shows no signs of letting up.
This information is especially concerning with a new school year set to begin, fall sports are ramping up at all age levels and other outdoor activities are being held.
“We are obviously facing some very unhealthy conditions right now in many areas of Montana,” said Department of Public Health and Human Services State Medical Officer Dr. Greg Holzman. “We strongly urge all Montanans to take this seriously, and follow the air quality recommendations for outdoor activities. This information is designed to provide people with the information they need to make informed decisions that will help Montanans stay healthy during this time.”
DPHHS offers several resources and recommendations the general public can follow to avoid prolonged exposure at www.dphhs.mt.gov
The Recommendations for Outdoor Activities Based on Air Quality document is available here: http://dphhs.mt.gov/publichealth/airquality
The DPHHS website also includes seven tips to help Montanans protect their health during a wildfire season and a public health wildfire communication toolkit.
Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) officials do not expect the conditions to improve heading into this weekend.
“Air quality impacts are not expected to improve today with stable air remaining in place,” said DEQ Air Quality Bureau Chief Dave Klemp.
Klemp added that fire activity is expected to remain high each day this week, causing significant impacts for west-central Montana. Smoke from the Pacific Northwest is also impacting Montana, worsening air quality in west-central Montana and causing widespread haze across the state.
On Thursday and Friday, increased winds and the chance of scattered thunderstorms will hopefully clear out some valleys but will likely increase fire behavior in Montana. There is no significant precipitation in the long term forecast, with smoke impacts expected to continue through this weekend and into next week.
Certain people are especially susceptible to the dangers of wildfire smoke, Holzman noted. This includes the elderly, infants and young children, pregnant women and people with chronic health condition especially those which involve lung or heart.
Health in the 406 messages
To keep informed about this and other public health topics, consider subscribing to DPHHS Health in the 406 messages by going to healthinthe406.mt.gov
Health in the 406: Focus on Wildfire Conditions
§ Montana has been declared a state of emergency with over 16 large wildfires currently burning statewide and over 500,000 acres burned since the start of the season. For news and up-to-date Montana wildfire information visit the Incident Information System (InciWeb).
§ An evacuation plan for families, pets and animals can help avoid confusion and prevent injuries, especially during extreme wildfire conditions.
§ Take steps to protect yourself and your family; be aware of your local air quality and know your health risks.