HELENA — According to the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, the air quality has been technically at unhealthy levels for more than 24 hours in parts of the state. That means active children and adults, and people with respiratory issues should avoid prolonged outdoor exertion. Everyone else, especially children, should limit prolonged outdoor exertion.
While the air is terrible outside, there are some ways to improve some of the air you breathe.
Wildfire smoke concentration can vary widely by time of day. Cooler times of day are synonymous with worse air quality. As temperatures start going down in the evening, the wind typically eases and air begins to sink from the atmosphere to the ground. Smoke will almost act like a fluid, finding and settling into lower areas.
If you're outside, those old Covid masks offer more protection and filtration against larger pm 2.5 smoke particles. But the best way to prevent breathing harmful particles in wildfire smoke is to stay indoors.
Air conditioning would be ideal, but maybe you don't have it. If you have central ducted air conditioning, use recirculation mode to prevent outdoor smoke from getting in. Do not run swamp coolers or whole house fans. Close windows and doors, and void indoor activities like vacuuming that increase indoor pollution, at least you get out of that chore.
You can even build a temporary air purifier with a box fan, a 20" by 20" air filter, and duct tape if you feel like MacGyver.