Southern half of Minnesota under air pollution advisory

Contact: Ralph Pribble, 651-757-2657

St. Paul, Minn. — The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is issuing an air pollution health advisory for the southern half of Minnesota, extending from Thursday afternoon into early Sunday morning.

Warmer temperatures, moisture and low wind conditions are causing fine particle formation and trapping them near the ground. Elevated fine particle levels will persist into Sunday, when a cold front is expected to move into Minnesota, shifting winds and enhancing mixing in the atmosphere. Air Quality Index levels will be in the upper moderate range, with hourly AQI readings reaching levels considered unhealthy for sensitive groups at times.

An air pollution health advisory is issued when the AQI approaches but is expected to remain below 101, a level considered unhealthy for sensitive groups. The MPCA issues an air pollution health alert when air quality is expected to reach and remain above that level. As of today, this is an advisory.

In an effort to better inform the traveling public on air quality alert days, The Minnesota Department of Transportation will use its electronic changeable signage boards to relay public service announcements regarding the advisory status, such as “Air advisory today: avoid idling, combine trips.”

If you’re interested in up-to-date information on air quality conditions across the state, check the MPCA’s AQI website or on its mobile app.

At-risk populations: Fine-particle levels are near a level considered unhealthy for sensitive groups. Populations sensitive to elevated fine particle levels include those with pre-existing cardiovascular or respiratory disease, the elderly, children, and people who participate in activities requiring extended or heavy exertion, both indoors and outdoors. Members of these groups may wish to postpone or reduce vigorous activities and minimize exposure to local sources of air pollution (i.e. heavy-duty vehicle traffic, wood fires and candles) during the advisory. Even individuals who are otherwise healthy may experience health effects when pollution levels increase.

Health impacts: Exposure to high levels of fine particles is 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, including fossil fuel-based energy generation, motor vehicle exhaust, gasoline-powered yard and lawn equipment and wood burning. Conserving energy, buying clean renewable power and using alternate means of transportation, such as mass transit, will all reduce your daily contribution to air pollution. During air quality advisories, residents are particularly encouraged to postpone or reduce vehicle trips and engine idling, 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 for the MPCA's Enviroflash Service.

Minnesota’s AQI is now available on mobile devices! Download the Minnesota Air App.