Air quality in Minnesota is generally good and meets all federal standards. But it could be better, and in fact one of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s goals is to improve air quality in urban population centers. To get to this goal the agency needs to find out more on how air quality may differ across our urban areas.
Last spring, the MPCA installed new air quality monitoring sensors at 44 sites in neighborhoods around Minneapolis and St. Paul. These sensors monitor and send back data to the MPCA on a variety of pollutants including fine particles, ozone, sulfur dioxide, and carbon monoxide. There is at least one monitoring pod in each zip code in the two cities. In St. Paul, most of them are placed on light poles in school parking lots; in Minneapolis, they are on Xcel Energy light poles in neighborhoods.
In October and November, MPCA staff will update interested community members at a series of public meetings. We’ll talk about what the sensors are finding to date and seek suggestions on how to improve the data viewing tool.
- October 2 (6:30 – 7:45 p.m.): St. Paul - Merriam Park Library
- October 8 (6:30 – 7:45 p.m.): Minneapolis - Farview Rec Center
- October 15 (6:30 – 7:45 p.m.): St. Paul - Wellstone Center
- October 28 (6:30 – 7:45 p.m.): Minneapolis - Audubon Park Rec Center
- November 14 (6:30 – 7:45 p.m.): Minneapolis - Powderhorn Park Rec Center
Are there higher levels for certain pollutants? Do pollutant level vary by neighborhood? Are levels higher at certain times of the day? These are some of the questions the MPCA hopes to answer through this effort.
“We are hoping this project will help us look at air quality in urban neighborhoods with a finer focus,” says MPCA project manager Dr. Monika Vadali. “It’s one of our first attempts to do that with monitoring data.”
The project, funded by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources, runs through the summer of 2021. Learn more on the Assessing urban air quality web page.