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SOURCE: Missoulian

DATE: April 25, 2019

SNIP: The Missoula area has been named the 11th most-polluted city in the United States for annual particle pollution, and the fifth-most polluted for short-term air quality, according to a report from the American Lung Association.

The organization’s annual State of the Air “report card” tracks exposure to particle pollution, both on a yearly basis and when it spikes during wildfires.

Missoula County had its most short-term particle pollution days ever recorded between 2015 and 2017, with a weighted average of 16.5 days. That’s more than twice the number of days recorded between 2014 and 2016.

Many of these spikes were directly linked to events like wildfires, which are increasing in frequency and intensity in many areas due to climate change, according to Carrie Nyssen, senior director for advocacy for the American Lung Association in Montana.

“Missoula residents should know that we’re breathing unhealthy air, driven by wildfires as a result of climate change, placing our health and lives at risk,” said Nyssen in a statement. “Across the state, many areas have seen their air quality worsen dramatically. We have to do more to protect people’s lives and public health.”

The 2017 Montana Climate Assessment found that human-caused climate change will cause precipitation in the state to decrease during the summer months by the middle of this century while increasing average temperatures and hampering the ability of forests to rebound from fire.

Montana regulators recently gave final approval to a 70 million-ton expansion of a southeastern Montana coal mine that supplies fuel for the coal-fired Colstrip power generating station, one of the largest in the western U.S.

[File this one under… is it irony? or just plain stupidity?]