The Tribe has operated a PM 2.5 monitor since 2003. The monitor measures the amount of very small particulates in the air, which are the unhealthiest particles. (PM 2.5 is particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns or thought of another way 30 particles will fit on the diameter of a human hair)
For example smoke carries these particles which gets into your lungs and is impossible to get rid of. These small particles build up over time and can cause asthma suffers and other people to have even greater problems breathing.
Along with the PM 2.5 monitor the Tribe also collects meteorological data; wind speed, wind direction, temperature and barometric pressure which helps determine where the pollution is coming from.
Real time data has been available on the web since 2006 for smoke management decision making with other agencies and for general public health queries about local air quality.
In partnership with the other Idaho Tribes and IDEQ all the air quality data is displayed on the website http://airquality.deq.idaho.gov/ .
You can see current conditions and create graphs for each item monitored 24 hours a day.
Ours is the only year round PM 2.5 monitoring station in Boundary County.
A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was established between the Tribe and Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (IDEQ) to better communicate information about air pollution episodes to help protect the health of Tribal members and non-tribal members of the county.
A Memorandum of Agreement was established with Idaho Bureau of Laboratories to perform quarterly maintenance audits of the Tribal air quality station to maintain quality assured data.
The Tribe is able to monitor and help mitigate air pollution which affects Tribal health on the reservation and the local community in Boundary County. In so doing the Tribe has become a partner with the community and is able to help promote healthy decisions regarding air quality.
The Kootenai Tribe works with other Tribes, Governments, and their agencies involved in Smoke Management Programs in the northwest.
Some of the partners include:
City of Bonners Ferry
Environmental Protection Agency
Coeur d'Alene Tribe
Nez Perce Tribe
Idaho Department of Environmental Quality
Idaho Department of Lands
Idaho State Department of Agriculture
Montana/Idaho Airshed Group
Washington Department of Ecology
Montana Department of Environmental Quality
U.S. Forest Service
Bureau of Land Management
Bureau of Indian Affairs