Wildfire smoke provides a health risk to many people in our community. During fire season, smoke can be a major factor in serious health complications, particularly children, the elderly, and people who have existing heart of lung diseases. Be prepared to take necessary precautions during fire season. If you can smell and see smoke, you should limit your exposure.
The Montana Department of Public Health, Montana Department of Environmental Quality and The Office of Emergency Preparedness and Training has put together “Health Effects Categories” which have been designed to help the public identify air quality risks in their immediate area:
HAZARDOUS: Serious risk of respiratory effects in the general population. Avoid any outdoor exertion. Those with respiratory conditions, the elderly, and children should remain indoors.
VERY UNHEALTHY: Significant risk of respiratory effects in the general population. Those with respiratory conditions, the elderly, and children should avoid outdoor activity; everyone else avoid prolonged exertion.
UNHEALTHY: Increased aggravation of those with lung and heart disease. People with respiratory problems, the elderly, and children should avoid exertion; everyone else should limit prolonged exertion.
UNHEALTHY FOR SENSATVE GROUPS: Increased likelihood of respiratory symptoms in sensitive individuals. People with respiratory problems, the elderly, and children should limit prolonged exertion.
MODERATE: Possible aggravation of heart or lung disease among people with cardiopulmonary issues.
You can determine which category the air in your immediate area is in by following the visibility procedures as outlined:
1) Face Away from the Sun
2) Determine the limit of your visible range by looking for targets at known distances (miles).
3) Visible range is that point at which even high contrast objects totally disappear.
4) Use the values listed determine which air quality category you are currently in.
If you can see:
• Less than 1.3 miles ? Hazardous
• 1.3 to 2.1 miles ? Very Unhealthy
• 2.2 to 5 miles ? Unhealthy
• 5.1 to 8.7 miles ? Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups
• 8.8 ? 13.3 miles ? Moderate
For more information, please contact the Butte-Silver Bow Heath Department at (406) 497-5020 or visit http://deq.mt.gov/FireUpdates/default.mcpx for information on smoke and your health.