(GREAT FALLS) The air quality in Great Falls on Monday evening is listed as "code red" by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, which means "unhealthy."
That means that "active children and adults, and people with respiratory disease, such as asthma, should avoid prolonged outdoor exertion; everyone else, especially children, should limit prolonged outdoor exertion."
We have received reports of ash falling in some areas around Great Falls.
Air quality in most other Montana communities is currently listed as "yellow" (moderate) or "green" (good).
The air quality ratings are determined by the amount of "particulate matter" (PM) in the air. The DEQ says that PM is the term for "a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air. Some particles, such as dust, dirt, soot, or smoke, are large or dark enough to be seen with the naked eye."
Physician Assistant Jason Kjono of Benefis Health System says people should reduce their exposure to the poor air quality as much as they can.
People can do this by staying inside, not working out too strenuously, and being in an air-conditioned area can help as well. If you have to work outside make sure you are wearing a mask, drink lots of fluids, and take a break in an area that has better air quality.