Air quality alert issued through the weekend due to wildfire smoke

Published 11:15 pm Friday, August 10, 2018

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency issued a statewide air quality alert due to smoke spreading across northern Minnesota Friday and southern Minnesota on Saturday.

Smoke from wildfires in western Canada were expected to continue to affect Minnesota Friday afternoon and evening. Air Quality Indices in the orange category were expected to spread eastward across northern Minnesota Friday evening, making air quality unhealthy for sensitive groups. AQIs were also expected to be orange across far western Minnesota Friday evening as smoke continued to sit over that region.

Meanwhile, a thick blanket of smoke was expected to arrive in the upper-levels of the atmosphere Friday afternoon and evening across southern parts of the state. However, smoke is not expected to impact air quality from St. Cloud to the Twin Cities and Rochester until midday Saturday. Periods of smoke and orange AQIs will linger over the state Saturday night before a south wind brings in cleaner air by Sunday afternoon.

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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 is any activity that uses fuel. 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 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, text message, phone or the Minnesota Air mobile app, visit MPCA’s Air Quality Index webpage. You can find additional information about health and indoor and outdoor air quality at Air Quality and Health webpage.