What to Know about Bad Air Quality - KULR8.com | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

What to Know about Bad Air Quality

Posted: Updated:

As wildfires continue to burn across the state, the city of Billings has been pretty clear. Those wildfires have pushed some smokey air and ash into the city. Now, one pulmonologist tells KULR-8 that smokey air-related problems are on the rise.

Dr. Robert Merchant with Billings Clinic specializes in caring for those people who suffer from lung disease. He said the number of people walking into the clinic with problems associated with bad air quality is growing.

Dr. Robert Merchant said, "Last week at one time I had three people in the hospital because of the smokey air. This week it's quieted down. I only have one person in the ICU because of the smokey air. And that's the ICU. In our clinic, we get a lot of people coming in with exacerbations of their breathing because of this."

Dr. Merchant called the steady increase one of his biggest concerns. He also told KULR-8 that bad air quality does not only affect the elderly and young children, but people who have lung disease, asthma and COPD. He said these groups of people are at the highest risk of severe damage.

Symptoms of bad air quality for people can range. For a person who's healthy, Dr. Merchant says symptoms will be watery eyes. For those who suffer from asthma or COPD, symptoms include coughing, shortness of breath and trouble walking. For people with heart disease, symptoms include shortness of breath and chest pain.

"If they're having symptoms, they don't want to be toughing it out. I would much rather them be seen in the clinic than have them be seen in the ICU on the ventilator," according to Dr. Merchant.

The pulmonologist also said the main thing he's worried about is fine particulates. Dr. Merchant said the size of particulates is important. For example, Dr. Merchant said if a particulate is big, it will get caught in a person's nose. When that happens, the particulate will not deposit into the lungs. If a particulate is really tiny, once a person exhales, the particulate will come out. That also means the particulate will not deposit into the lungs either. Dr. Merchant said the particulates that can really cause damage are called 2.5 microns. He said, "2.5 microns is the particular size of particles we really worry about, because those particles are the ones that get down in the lungs and deposit there and cause the damage."

Dr. Merchant wants all residents to know how to figure out if air quality is in the green or in the red. He told KULR-8 that all residents have to do is look up air quality reports and to look outside. He said we are fortunate and that residents "can look out to the beartooths and see how far you can see. Because if you can see out to the beartooths the air quality is pretty good."

The pulmonologist said residents shouldn't be able to see the air they're breathing.

  • MontanaMore>>

  • Family escapes fire near Fox Farm Road

    Family escapes fire near Fox Farm Road

    Saturday, February 24 2018 7:44 PM EST2018-02-25 00:44:27 GMT

    A family was able to escape a blaze this morning in Great Falls after a portion of their garage caught fire. Several agencies, including Great Falls Fire Rescue, responded to the call on 18th Avenue SW around 8 Saturday morning. We're told the fire started as someone was trying to fill a portable heater with kerosene. Battalion Chief Bob Shupe of GFFR says there was significant damage done to the garage and the house. Everyone who was inside is safe and already have arrangements plann...

    A family was able to escape a blaze this morning in Great Falls after a portion of their garage caught fire. Several agencies, including Great Falls Fire Rescue, responded to the call on 18th Avenue SW around 8 Saturday morning. We're told the fire started as someone was trying to fill a portable heater with kerosene. Battalion Chief Bob Shupe of GFFR says there was significant damage done to the garage and the house. Everyone who was inside is safe and already have arrangements plann...

  • Montana state crime lab chemist charged with stealing meth

    Montana state crime lab chemist charged with stealing meth

    Saturday, February 24 2018 5:54 PM EST2018-02-24 22:54:40 GMT

    MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A former chemist at Montana's state crime lab in Missoula is charged with taking meth left over after testing for suspected drugs in criminal cases.

    MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A former chemist at Montana's state crime lab in Missoula is charged with taking meth left over after testing for suspected drugs in criminal cases.

  • Yellowstone park plans more security for corralled bison

    Yellowstone park plans more security for corralled bison

    Saturday, February 24 2018 5:40 PM EST2018-02-24 22:40:56 GMT

    BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — Yellowstone National Park plans to increase security after fences were damaged at a bison capturing facility outside the park, in one case undoing efforts to certify the bison hadn't been exposed to a wildlife disease and could be transferred to an Indian reservation.

    BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — Yellowstone National Park plans to increase security after fences were damaged at a bison capturing facility outside the park, in one case undoing efforts to certify the bison hadn't been exposed to a wildlife disease and could be transferred to an Indian reservation.

  • Most Popular

  • Regional NewsMore>>

  • Hero dog shot multiple times protecting teenager from burglars

    Hero dog shot multiple times protecting teenager from burglars

    Thursday, February 22 2018 5:33 PM EST2018-02-22 22:33:09 GMT

    DES MOINES, Wash. - A 2-year-old German shepherd is being called a hero for risking his life to protect his 16-year-old human best friend when two burglars broke into a Des Moines, Washington home.  According to KIRO, burglars broke into the home Wednesday afternoon. The teenager hid in the closet with his dog, Rex. But Rex soon ran downstairs and confronted the burglars, who beat him until he was bloody. Rex ran back upstairs.

    DES MOINES, Wash. - A 2-year-old German shepherd is being called a hero for risking his life to protect his 16-year-old human best friend when two burglars broke into a Des Moines, Washington home.  According to KIRO, burglars broke into the home Wednesday afternoon. The teenager hid in the closet with his dog, Rex. But Rex soon ran downstairs and confronted the burglars, who beat him until he was bloody. Rex ran back upstairs.

  • Grant Co. K-9 Grizzly saves elderly Ephrata man who wandered away from home

    Grant Co. K-9 Grizzly saves elderly Ephrata man who wandered away from home

    Wednesday, February 21 2018 1:16 PM EST2018-02-21 18:16:07 GMT

    EPHRATA, Wash. - Grant County K-9 Grizzly saved the life of an 85-year-old Ephrata man suffering from Alzheimer's early Wednesday morning.  The Sheriff's Office says the 85-year-old man wandered away from his home overnight in the frigid, single-digit temperatures. Deputies, firefighters and medics searched the area and even used thermal imaging, but could not find the man.  

    EPHRATA, Wash. - Grant County K-9 Grizzly saved the life of an 85-year-old Ephrata man suffering from Alzheimer's early Wednesday morning.  The Sheriff's Office says the 85-year-old man wandered away from his home overnight in the frigid, single-digit temperatures. Deputies, firefighters and medics searched the area and even used thermal imaging, but could not find the man.  

  • Salmonella outbreak prompts Dept. of Health warning: 'Don't snuggle or kiss live poultry'

    Salmonella outbreak prompts Dept. of Health warning: 'Don't snuggle or kiss live poultry'

    Tuesday, February 20 2018 4:55 PM EST2018-02-20 21:55:50 GMT

    OLYMPIA, Wash. - The Washington Department of Health says nationally there were 1,120 Salmonella cases linked to backyard poultry in 2017, with 23 of those reported in Washington. Those 23 cases were more than double the number of cases in the previous two years combined.  "Salmonella can cause serious illness," the Department of Health said. 

    OLYMPIA, Wash. - The Washington Department of Health says nationally there were 1,120 Salmonella cases linked to backyard poultry in 2017, with 23 of those reported in Washington. Those 23 cases were more than double the number of cases in the previous two years combined.  "Salmonella can cause serious illness," the Department of Health said.