Note: This air quality health alert now covers the entire state of Minnesota, including the Twin Cities area.
Heavy smoke from Canadian wildfires is slowly moving across Minnesota today. As of 3:00 p.m., fine particle levels had reached unhealthy levels in a diagonal band across the state including: Marshall, St. Cloud, Brainerd, Duluth and Grand Portage. This band of smoke is expected to continue to move across the state Monday evening and into the early morning hours Tuesday. Cleaner air is entering the state behind the smoke plume, resulting in improved air quality.
Contact: Steve Mikkelson, 218-316-3887
St. Paul, Minn. — The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has issued an air pollution health alert for the northern two-thirds of Minnesota due to smoke blowing in from forest fires in Canada. While air quality briefly improved following rain showers on Sunday and Monday, heavy smoke is returning to Minnesota behind the storm system. As of 9:00 a.m. Monday, air quality across the northern two-thirds of Minnesota had reached unhealthy levels. Air quality is expected to remain poor throughout the day on Monday.
While air quality is currently good across southern Minnesota, including the Twin Cities, smoke may return to the area later today. For current air quality conditions visit the Air Quality Index page.
The MPCA issues an air pollution health alert when air quality conditions reach unhealthy for sensitive group levels, or an AQI greater than 101.
At-risk populations: Fine particle pollution has reached a level considered unhealthy for everyone. Everyone may begin to experience health effects and members of sensitive populations may experience more serious health effects. Populations sensitive to fine particles include those with preexisting cardiovascular or respiratory disease, the elderly, children, and individuals who participate in activities requiring extended or heavy exertion, both indoors and outdoors. Members of these groups are encouraged to postpone or reduce vigorous activity and minimize exposure to local sources of air pollution (i.e., heavy duty vehicle traffic, wood fires and candles). Even individuals who are otherwise healthy may experience health effects when pollution levels increase.
Health impacts: Exposure to high levels of fine particles has been linked with both respiratory and cardiovascular health effects. Fine particles may exacerbate pre-existing health conditions and may cause individuals to experience chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing or fatigue. If you experience these symptoms, contact your physician.
Pollution-reduction tips: Fine particles are produced from combustion activities, which include fossil fuel-based energy generation, motor vehicle exhaust, gasoline-powered yard and lawn equipment, and wood burning. Conserving energy, buying clean renewable power, and utilizing alternate means of transportation, such as mass transit, will all reduce your daily contribution to air pollution. During air quality alerts, residents are particularly encouraged to postpone or reduce vehicle trips and engine idling, the use of gasoline-powered equipment, and burning wood.
To receive daily air quality forecasts and air quality alert notifications by email or text message sign up at http://mn.enviroflash.info.