Wildfire Smoke and Your Health
Protect Yourself During Poor Air Quality
Annual preparations for wildfire smoke impacts can help Montana residents mitigate the effect of wildfire smoke on their health and daily routines. These steps include talking to their health care provider about their health risk, taking steps to keep their indoor air cleaner, sharing existing cleaner air spaces in their homes with neighbors, and limiting outdoor activity when air quality is poor.
Air Quality & COVID-19
This wildfire season is going to be unique as Montana continues to respond to COVID-19. This year we are especially concerned about health impacts as breathing in wildfire smoke may worsen symptoms for those with COVID-19 and many of those vulnerable to wildfire smoke are also vulnerable to COVID-19. How we protect ourselves from wildfire smoke is going to be different with COVID-19. It will be more difficult to go to public spaces where the air is cleaner and cooler than our homes may be. N95 respirators should be reserved for healthcare and frontline workers because N95 respirator supplies are limited. Cloth face coverings do not provide protection from hazardous chemicals found in wildfire smoke. Take steps to prepare your home for wildfire smoke by improving air filtration and creating a clean air space.
EPA: Smoke and COVID-19 Fact Sheet
CDC: Wildfire Smoke & COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions
Smoke and your Health- DPHHS Recommendations
This resource includes 7 tips that the general public can follow to stay healthy and avoid prolonged exposure to harmful wildfire smoke. Also, check out the "Frequently Asked Questions" section on how to keep your family healthy.
HEPA Air Filters
Guide to Buying a HEPA Air Purifier
HEPA Air Purifiers in Schools
Outdoor Air Quality and Activity Guidelines
General Public: Outdoor Activity Guidelines Based on Air Quality
These recommendations for outdoor activities were developed by the Montana Department of Public Health and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality. The guidelines are based on the amount of time spent outdoors in different levels of air quality, from good to hazardous. Instructions on how to use the guidelines and read the Today's Air website can be found on the of this resource.
Schools and Childcare Facilities: Outdoor Activity Guidelines Based on Air Quality
These recommendations for outdoor activities were developed by the Montana Department of Public Health and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality and approved by the Montana Office of Public Instruction. The guidelines are based on the amount of time spent outdoors in different levels of air quality, from good to hazardous. Instructions on how to use the guidelines and read the Today's Air website can be found on the of this resource. Health risk categories are the same as the general guidelines, but activity recommendations may vary.
Montana Wildfire Partners
The Montana Department of Environmental Quality provides air quality readings and activity recommendations based on data from monitoring stations placed around the state. In addition to the Today's Air website, DEQ houses a "Wildfire Smoke" page which includes links to state and national resources related to wild fire smoke and public health.
Ready and Safe Montana serves as a landing page for current emergency events. This site can help direct you to public health news and alerts, air quality monitoring and reporting, weather forecasting, and travel and road conditions. Ready and Safe also houses information for the general public about individual preparedness and opportunities to support local emergency response efforts.
The Department of Commerce provides daily updates during the wildfire season that review potential impacts on travel. This site includes links to webcams from across the state, as well as information about potential travel restrictions, area closures, and smoke conditions. Travel counselors can assist you with your travel itinerary and direct you to list of indoor and outdoor activities that may be a good fit for you.
The American Lung Association offers general recommendations for the public and specific tips for individuals with chronic respiratory diseases
MontanaWildfireSmoke.org grew out of efforts by Climate Smart Missoula to help our community during times of wildfire smoke and other changing summer conditions. The site provides evidence based information on the health effects of wildfire smoke and includes instructions on how to read air quality levels using the Today's Air website and the Outdoor Activity Recommendations for Schools and Childcare Centers. Climate Smart has also produced a number of short videos about assessing air quality and protecting yourself from wildfire smoke.