The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has issued an air quality alert for all of Minnesota. This is an unprecedented significant air quality event for Minnesota, extending over many days. The alert takes effect Friday, July 30, beginning at 12 p.m. and runs until Tuesday, Aug. 3, at 12 p.m. The affected area includes all of Minnesota, and the tribal nations of Grand Portage, Fond du Lac, Upper Sioux, Leech Lake, Red Lake, Mille Lacs, and Prairie Island.
Smoke from Canadian wildfires lingers over most of Minnesota. There will be some slight improvement in air quality throughout Friday and Friday night. However, on Saturday northerly winds behind a cold front will bring more smoke from wildfires located north of the Canadian border in Ontario and Manitoba into Minnesota. This reinforcing batch of heavy smoke is expected to arrive starting Saturday morning. Smoke will continue pouring into the state throughout Saturday and into Sunday. High pressure will build over the area for Sunday and remain over the area for Monday into Tuesday morning. Smoke will recirculate under the high pressure, leading to prolonged period of heavy smoke.
Fine particle levels will begin to improve Tuesday as southerly winds start moving the smoke out of the state. Fine particle levels are expected to reach the Purple AQI category, a level considered very unhealthy for everyone, across north central and south central Minnesota. This area includes Roseau, Baudette, Hibbing, Brainerd, St Cloud, the Twin Cities, and the tribal nations of Red Lake, Leech Lake, and Mille Lacs. Fine particle levels are expected to reach the Red AQI category, a level considered unhealthy for everyone, across northern, central, and southeast Minnesota. This area includes East Grand Forks, Moorhead, Ely, Detroit Lakes, Alexandria, Ortonville, Mankato, Albert Lea, Rochester, and the tribal nations of Upper Sioux, Fond du Lac, and Prairie Island. Fine particle levels are expected to reach the Orange AQI category, a level that is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, for far southwestern and northeastern Minnesota. This area includes Marshall, Duluth, Two Harbors, and the tribal nation of Grand Portage.
Sensitive groups 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.
People who don’t have air conditioning to reduce indoor air pollution.
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.
In areas where air quality is in the Purple (Very Unhealthy) AQI category, sensitive individuals may experience significant aggravation of heart or lung disease and respiratory conditions. The general population may also experience a significant increase in respiratory effects.
In areas where air quality is in the Red (Unhealthy) AQI category, sensitive individuals may experience increased aggravation of heart or lung disease and respiratory conditions. The general population may also experience increased respiratory effects. I
n areas where air quality is in the Orange (Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups) AQI category, sensitive individuals may experience aggravation of heart or lung disease and increasing likelihood of respiratory conditions.
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.
Keep indoor air as clean as possible. Use indoor air filtration or air conditioning with the fresh-air intake closed/set on recirculate to reduce indoor air pollution.
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.
In areas where air quality is in the Purple (Very Unhealthy) AQI category, sensitive individuals should avoid any outdoor activity. Everyone else should avoid prolonged exertion.
In areas where air quality is in the Red (Unhealthy) AQI category, sensitive individuals should avoid prolonged exertion. Everyone else should limit prolonged exertion.
In areas where air quality is in the Orange (Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups) AQI category, sensitive individuals should limit prolonged exertion.
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.