Montana Department of Environmental Quality About Us Permitting & Operator Assistance Public Participation

Air Quality and Smoke 

Program Overview

The air quality in Montana is occasionally affected by smoke from wildfires during the summer months. Montana DEQ actively monitors smoke impacts from wildfires and provides regular smoke forecasts during the wildfire season.

For those experiencing air quality affected by wildfire smoke, visit the Smoke Forecasts page or use the Visibility Guidelines to evaluate air quality in their area.

 Smoke Forecasts

These recommendations for outdoor activities were developed by the Montana Department of Public Health and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality based on the amount of time spent outdoors and the state of air quality conditions, from good to hazardous.

Outdoor Activity Guidelines: General Public

Outdoor Activity Guidelines: Schools and Childcare Facilities

The procedure for making personal observation to determine the forest fire smoke index value for local areas without National Weather Station (NWS) or Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) monitors is:

  1. Face away from the sun.
  2. Determine the limit of your visible range by looking for targets at known distances (miles).
  3. Visible range is that point at which even high contrast objects totally disappear.
  4. Use the values below to determine the local forest fire smoke category.
Health Effects
Health Effects Categories Visibility Ranges (miles)3
Hazardous Less than 1.3
Very Unhealthy 2.1 - 1.3
Unhealthy 5.0 - 2.2
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups 8.7 - 5.1
Moderate 13.3 - 8.8
Good 13.4 +

Air Quality and Smoke Contacts

Air Quality Main Phone 
(406) 444-3490

FAX (Helena)
(406) 444-1499

Air Program Contacts

Air Quality Planning - Administrative Rules and State Implementation Plan
(406) 444-9741

Meteorological Services & Smoke Forecasting
(406) 444-0283


Wildfires and Air Quality
Protect Your Health From Wildfire Smoke