Air pollution monitoring and modeling

MPCA air monitoring equipment and staff

Air monitoring

The MPCA operates a network of air monitors at more than 50 locations around the state that constantly measure pollutants in outdoor air. Using monitoring data, the agency can track pollution trends over time and show whether outdoor air meets air quality standards and health benchmarks. See the Air data page for air monitoring and emissions data collected in Minnesota.

The Air Monitoring Network Plan summarizes the MPCA's primary air monitoring activities, proposed changes to the monitoring network for the upcoming year, and whether existing monitoring sites meet federal and state air quality standards.

Air quality may vary significantly within the network. For example, air monitors near crowded highways or industrial facilities may show higher levels of pollutants. And Minnesotans want to know more about what’s in the air in their local communities. So the MPCA also uses smaller-scale monitoring to understand air quality in specific areas.

Air modeling

A map of Minnesota with gray, green, and blue shading.

Air models are computer programs that can predict pollution levels in areas that don’t have an air-quality monitor or for pollutants that are difficult to monitor. Models use existing monitoring data and estimated emissions from pollution sources. The MPCA uses models to set appropriate emission limits for facilities, study the regional transport of pollution across state borders, and forecast future air quality in Minnesota.

The MPCA’s air modeling page provides modeling results that identify and prioritize sources of air pollution in Minnesota. The MPCA also uses air models to forecast air quality and upcoming air quality alerts. See the current forecast on the current air quality page.

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