Contact: Frank Kohlasch, 651-757-2500
Saint Paul, Minn. — The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has issued an air pollution health advisory for portions of western, central and southern Minnesota effective 10 a.m. tomorrow morning through 9 p.m. Friday. The affected area includes the Twin Cities metropolitan area, Rochester, Mankato, Marshall, St. Cloud and Detroit Lakes.
Forecasted temperatures in the low 90s, mostly sunny skies and light south-southwesterly winds will promote the creation of ozone in the advisory area. As a result, the Air Quality Index (AQI) is forecasted to reach into the low to mid-90s during the day on Friday, which is approaching air quality conditions considered unhealthy for sensitive groups. Ozone concentrations will be the lowest in the morning hours and will rise quickly in the late morning/early afternoon hours. Ozone concentrations will begin to decline overnight with thunderstorms moving into the area, but may increase again on Saturday.
At-risk populations: Ozone pollution is expected to near a level considered unhealthy for sensitive groups. Those sensitive to ozone include people with pre-existing 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 pre-existing 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 renewable power and using 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 more information on current air quality conditions in your area, visit the MPCA's Air Quality Index page. 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 at the Be Air Aware MN website.