Using the AQI to reduce exposure to air pollution

On most days, air quality is good across Minnesota, but on a few days each year air quality can become unhealthy. Like a weather forecast, you can use real-time AQI results and daily air quality forecasts to help reduce your exposure to unhealthy levels of air pollution.

On days with good air quality (green), air pollution levels are not expected to negatively impact health. However, even on good air quality days, you can avoid exposure to air pollutants by minimizing the time you spend near busy roadways, idling vehicles, construction equipment, and burning activities such as recreational fires.

On days with moderate air quality (yellow), air pollution levels are elevated, and may cause health effects for people who are very sensitive to air pollution. In addition to minimizing the amount of time spent near high-emitting pollution sources, individuals who are very sensitive to air pollution are encouraged to adjust their activity levels in accordance with recommendations from their physician. Activities can be rescheduled to hours in the day when pollutant levels are lowest (morning hours for ozone) or adjusted to reduce the duration or intensity of the activity.

On days when air quality is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups (orange), air pollution levels are expected to cause health effects for those with pre-existing cardiovascular or lung disease, older adults, children, and otherwise healthy individuals who are participating in activities that require heavy or extended duration. On air quality alert days, sensitive groups are encouraged to avoid spending time near high-emitting pollution sources and should consider rescheduling or adjusting activity levels in accordance with recommendations from a physician.

On days when air quality is unhealthy (red), everyone may begin to experience health effects. Everyone should avoid spending time near high-emitting pollution sources and should adjust activity levels by rescheduling or reducing the duration or intensity of the activity.

The Minnesota Department of Health has developed guidance based on Air Quality Index levels: Air quality guidance for schools and child care facilities