Air quality alert issued due to ozone for Friday, Sept. 15th

Contact: Daniel Dix, 651-503-6582

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has issued an air quality alert for southern, eastern and portions of central Minnesota, effective Friday, Sept. 15 from 12-8:00 p.m. The affected area includes the entire Twin Cities metro, Marshall, Rochester, St. Cloud and the Tribal Nation of Upper Sioux.

The AQI is expected to climb into the orange (unhealthy for sensitive groups) category Friday due to unseasonably warm temperatures, mostly sunny skies, and high ozone levels moving in from the southern and central US.  AQI levels should start out in the yellow (moderate) category Friday morning, before climbing into the orange category during the afternoon and evening. Conditions are expected to improve around sunset Friday as ozone levels decline.

People whose health is affected by unhealthy air quality:  There are people who are more likely to be affected when ozone reaches an unhealthy level.

  • People who have asthma or other breathing conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic bronchitis, and emphysema.
  • Children and teenagers.
  • People of all ages who are doing extended or heavy, physical activity like playing sports or working outdoors.
  • Some healthy people who are more sensitive to ozone even though they have none of the risk factors. There may be a genetic base for this increased sensitivity.

Health effects: Unhealthy ozone levels can aggravate lung diseases like asthma, emphysema, and COPD. When the air quality is unhealthy, people with these conditions may experience symptoms like difficulty breathing deeply, shortness of breath, throat soreness, wheezing, coughing, or unusual fatigue. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms use your inhalers as directed and contact your health care provider.

Take precautions: Everyone should take precautions when the air quality is unhealthy.

  • Take it easy and listen to your body.
  • Limit, change, or postpone your physical activity.
  • If possible, stay away from local sources of air pollution like busy roads and wood fires.
  • If you have asthma, or other breathing conditions like COPD, make sure you have your relief/rescue inhaler with you.
  • People with asthma should review and follow guidance in their written asthma action plan. Make an appointment to see your health provider if you don’t have an asthma action plan.

Pollution reduction tips: Ozone is produced on hot, sunny days by a chemical reaction between volatile organic compounds and oxides of nitrogen.

  • Reduce vehicle trips and fill-up the gas tank at dawn or dusk.
  • Encourage use of public transport, or carpool, when possible.
  • Postpone use of gasoline powered lawn and garden equipment on air alert days. Use battery or manual equipment instead.
  • Avoid backyard fires.

For information on current air quality conditions in your area and to sign-up for daily air quality forecasts and alert notifications by email or text message, visit the MPCA's Air Quality Index webpage. You can find additional information about health and indoor and outdoor air quality on the BeAirAware website.