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Air quality alert issued for Western Montana

MISSOULA – With the icy temperatures in western Montana, it is understandable that residents would want to fire up their wood-burning stoves to combat the cold.

However, stagnant air hangs over the Missoula valley, causing poor air quality.

The Missoula City-County Health Department said that with light winds, clear skies will promote the formation of strong inversions across Western Montana.

Beginning Saturday morning, we will likely see widespread moderate air quality in the valleys, with some areas reaching unhealthy for sensitive groups.

The Missoula City-County Health Department warns residents to limit their use of wood heat, and that means using an alternative means of heat.

If wood is your sole source of heat, it is important to burn as cleanly as possible.

“It’s really important that people do what they can to help reduce the amount of air pollution that builds up here in the valley during these episodes, these high-pressure ridges,” said Missoula City-County Health Department Air Quality Specialist, Benjamin Schmidt. “Because if you’re an at-risk group, this can impact your health directly and immediately. Everything that you generate when you burn the wood, which is still our single largest source of pollution in the wintertime, you know it stays here in the Missoula Valley area.”

Missoula County residents can check the current air quality and air alert status by calling the Air Quality Hotline: 406-258-3600.

Lauren Heiser

Lauren Heiser

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