By Caroline Jenkins
for the Pathfinder
Following the presentation of preliminary air quality data at Januarys monthly Seeley Lake Community Council meeting, the councils Air Quality Committee will hold a working session this Thursday, January 21 at 5pm at Pyramid Mountain Lumber conference room.
At the council meeting Ben Schmidt, Air Quality Specialist with Missoula City-County Health Department (MCCHD), presented data gathered from the first 6-7 weeks of operation of the new air monitoring station.
Between November 15, 2009 and December 31, the air quality levels for particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5) exceeded the national ambient air standard of 35ug/m3 on 19 days.
In the first 16 days of January, the 24-hour average for PM2.5 exceeded the national standard on nine days, according to MCCHD.
The Seeley Lake Community Council and MCCHD are eager to work with community members to address air quality now. At Thursdays working session, the Air Quality Committee will start to explore possible funding sources for wood-stove change out programs and discuss what actions local wood-stove users can take.
At the council meeting Schmidt offered some suggestions for controlling PM2.5 emissions. These included modifying stove operations like not dampening down and burning dry, low-resin content wood. Stove change-out programs can also be explored, looking to external funding to assist with the financial burden. And looking at alternate fuel sources, like propane, electric or pellet stoves.
PM2.5 matter is extremely fine and penetrates deeply into the lungs. It is known to cause health issues for certain populations.
The Clearwater Resource Council will also be discussing Air Quality at their monthly meeting on January 26 at 7pm at the Seeley Lake Community Hall.
CRC will be working with the council to help look at local solutions to what may be an air quality issue in the valley. Community members are invited to attend Tuesdays CRC meeting to learn more, including information about wood stove and weatherization tax credits and help people start the process of improving their homes efficiency.