LOLO, Mont. - UPDATE: Late afternoon conditions are good to moderate, as the smoke has lifted. Long term cumulative exposure is still HAZARDOUS for Lolo. The same pattern of long hours of hazardous morning smoke giving way to a brief period of clean air during the afternoon will occur tomorrow.
Air quality this morning is HAZARDOUS in Lolo. This is the poorest and most dangerous air quality category used by the state.
According to the Montana Department of Air Quality, the visibility associated with air quality this dangerous is less that 1.3 miles. Everyone should avoid being outdoors as much as possible, and those who are particularly sensitive to the smoke or have respiratory issues should not go outside at all.
If you are experiencing problems or know you are at risk, contact your healthcare provider immediately. Wildfire smoke contains deadly toxins that can develop lung diseases even if you are not an at risk group.
If you are driving in the area, set the air conditioner to "recirculate" to keep the smoke from entering the passenger cabin. Children and the elderly are especially susceptible, and should not be outdoors in these conditions even if they are healthy. Homes and businesses should limit the amount of outside air entering the structure.
If you wish to wear a dust mask, only certain models have a fine enough filter to properly filter out the toxins in the smoke. The American Lung Association recommends masks labeled N95 or P1000, and are available at many hardware stores.
These conditions could be prevalent around Lolo in the coming days as well, as the smoke settles in the valley each night. The smoke will lift each afternoon giving at temporary reprieve.
As winds blow more northward during the afternoon air quality in Missoula could deteriorate to become unhealthy for sensitive groups. You can determine air quality in your area using visibility guidelines found here. http://www.deq.mt.gov/FireUpdates/VisibilityRanges.mcpx