Air pollution alert issued for Friday; ozone pollution will affect the Twin Cities metro and surrounding areas

Contact: Steve Irwin, 651-757-2563

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is issuing an air pollution health alert for the Twin Cities metro and surrounding areas, effective Friday, July 22 from 11 a.m. through 9 p.m. The affected area includes Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott and Washington counties. This alert follows a previous air quality advisory issued for Thursday.

Air quality is expected to worsen Friday.  Sunny skies, hot temperatures, and light winds will combine to cause an increase in ground-level ozone.  Air Quality Index (AQI) values are expected to climb into the low 100s on Friday in the alert area.  This is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups. Ozone concentrations will be the lowest in the morning hours Friday, and will gradually rise midday through the afternoon. Air quality will improve Friday night into the weekend, with showers and thunderstorms expected on Saturday.

Map showing area of MN that is under an air quality advisory or alert.

At-risk populations: Ozone pollution is expected to be near a level considered unhealthy for sensitive groups. Those sensitive to ozone include people with preexisting respiratory or cardiovascular conditions, the elderly, children, and individuals who participate in outdoor activities requiring extended or heavy exertion. These individuals are encouraged to postpone or reduce vigorous outdoor activity, or schedule outdoor activity in the morning, when ozone levels are lower. Even persons who are otherwise healthy may experience health effects when ozone levels increase.

Health impacts: Elevated levels of ozone have been linked to respiratory and cardiovascular health effects. Exposure to high levels of ozone may exacerbate preexisting health conditions. High ozone levels may make it more difficult to breathe deeply and vigorously, cause shortness of breath and breathing discomfort, and result in coughing and a sore or scratchy throat. If you experience these symptoms, contact your physician.

Pollution reduction tips: Ozone is produced on hot, sunny days by a chemical reaction between volatile organic compounds and oxides of nitrogen. These pollutants are released from motor vehicles, lawn and garden equipment, paints and solvents, refueling stations, and other activities that require fuel combustion. Conserving energy; buying clean, renewable power; and utilizing alternative means of transportation, such as mass transit, will all reduce your contribution to air pollution. During air quality alerts, residents are particularly encouraged to use public transportation, car pool or reduce vehicle trips and engine idling. Postpone the use of gasoline-powered equipment and avoid burning wood.

For information and current conditions in your area, visit the MPCA's Air Quality Index webpage. To receive daily air quality forecasts and air quality alert notifications by email or text message sign up for the agency's Enviroflash service. You can find additional information on indoor and outdoor air quality in Minnesota on the Be Air Aware website.