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Poor Air Quality

Declining air quality makes the Helena cityscape difficult to see from the North Valley in this file photo from December 2014.

Lewis and Clark Public Health announced air quality in the Helena Valley was considered poor Tuesday. 

A poor air quality status means that particulate levels have not improved or have worsened, and are not expected to improve. Particulate levels exceeded National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

Sensitive individuals and those with aggravated heart or lung disease and cardiopulmonary disease may experience an increased likelihood of respiratory symptoms when air quality is poor. These individuals should avoid prolonged exertion, and everyone else should limit prolonged exertion.

Burning restrictions

When the health department declares poor air quality:

  • A person may not operate a solid fuel burning device such as a wood stove or fireplace unless: The department has granted an exemption for this year's monitoring season, or the solid fuel burning device is certified by the EPA as having PM 2.5 emission rates of less than 7.5 grams per hour. The stove must be operating properly and in accordance with the manufacturer's guidelines. The device shall not exceed emissions of more than 20 percent opacity.
  • A person may not idle diesel or locomotive engines for over two hours in any 12-hour period.
  • A person may not operate an incinerator.

For more information about obtaining an exemption, contact the Environmental Services Division at 447-8351.

For the latest air quality conditions, call the Air Quality Hotline at 447-1644 or visit

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