Air quality alert issued for west central and northwest Minnesota due to smoke from Kansas fires for Saturday, April 8th

Contact: Steve Irwin, 651-757-2563

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is issuing an air quality alert for west central and northwestern Minnesota, effective Saturday, April 8th from 11:00 a.m. through 10:00 p.m. The affected area includes the Tribal Nation of Red Lake, and the cities of Ortonville, Fergus Falls, Moorhead, Detroit Lakes, East Grand Forks and Wheaton.

A narrow plume of smoke originating from the fires across eastern Kansas is expected to affect west central and northwestern Minnesota through this evening. Fine particle pollution is expected to climb at or above a level that is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups. Conditions are expected to improve this evening as winds shift and carry the smoke out of the area.

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

  • People who have asthma or other breathing conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • People who have heart disease or high blood pressure.
  • Children and older adults.
  • People of all ages who are doing extended or heavy, physical activity like playing sports or working outdoors.

Health effects: Air pollution can aggravate heart and cardiovascular disease as well as lung diseases like asthma and COPD. When the air quality is unhealthy, people with these conditions may experience symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, or 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 level.
  • 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: The main sources of fine particle pollution are combustion activities. Conserving energy and buying clean, renewable energy are great lifestyle choices to help reduce overall pollution.

  • Reduce vehicle trips.
  • 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 burning wood.

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 Air Quality Index page. You can find additional information about health and indoor and outdoor air quality on the Air quality and you webpage.