The American Lung Association released its “State of the Air” report on Wednesday, giving Missoula and Ravalli County “F” grades for “short Term” air quality. The city of Missoula’s air quality was so poor, it nearly made the top ten most polluted list, which is currently occupied by many much larger cities like Bakersfield, Fresno, Oakland and Pittsburgh.

“Missoula, Montana ranked 12th on the most polluted list for short term particle pollution,” said American Lung Association Spokesperson Lyndsay Alexander. “However, it is an improvement compared to previous years, which means that we show fewer unhealthy days due to short term particle pollution compared to previous reports.”

Alexander says the report is based upon the most recent data released by the EPA, and this particular category includes impacts from things like wood burning stoves and forest fires.

“There are times in the year where we see spikes in short term particle pollution,” Alexander said. “It certainly can be associated with wildfires and we know that Montana has been affected by wildfires in recent years. I should point out that this report does not include data from last year’s wildfires. It stops at 2016.”

Though ranked among the 12 worst in short term particle pollution, there was some good news in the report: Missoula had fewer days of particle pollution in 2016 than in 2015 and ranked among the cleanest cities in the nation for ozone pollution. Curiously, Missoula also meets the year-round national air quality standard for particle pollution despite failing the short term standard miserably.

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