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September 09 2011 16:38

Haze in Air Likely from Fires in Northern Minnesota and Canada

Contact: Sam Brungardt, 651-757-2249 (MPCA)

Haze that was visible in the Twin Cities metro area today has prompted many calls from concerned citizens.

Cassie McMahon, air quality specialist with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), says the haze is most likely from the Pagami Creek fire, near Ely, and other fires in northern Minnesota and southern Ontario.

“Despite the smell and visible haze, air quality monitors across the state indicate that pollution levels have not exceeded health standards, suggesting that much of the visible smoke is above the surface level,” McMahon said. “At this point, the air quality forecast for the state does not suggest that air pollution will reach air alert levels in the coming days.”

McMahon added, “The MPCA will continue to monitor pollutant levels and issue appropriate warnings and advice if that become warranted.”

While monitored pollution levels have not exceeded health thresholds, individual responses to odors and pollution vary. If you are reacting to the smoke in the air, McMahon and James Kelly, indoor air supervisor with the Minnesota Department of Health, suggest reducing activity levels and remaining indoors as long as the haze persists. Individuals with pre-existing respiratory problems, such as asthma, are particularly susceptible to increases in air pollution.

Hourly air pollution information is available via the MPCA’s Air Quality Index website.