Due to “unprecedented” conditions caused by wildfire smoke, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has extended its air quality alert for all of Minnesota. The alert took effect Wednesday, July 28, beginning at 10 pm, and now runs until Tuesday, Aug. 3.
Northerly winds behind a cold front will bring smoke from wildfires located north of the Canadian border in Ontario and Manitoba into Minnesota. Heavy smoke is expected to arrive around 10 pm on Wednesday near the Canadian border and mid-morning on Thursday in central and southern Minnesota.
Smoke will remain over the area into Friday. During this time, fine particle levels are expected to be in the Orange AQI category, a level that is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups. Fine particle levels will begin to improve Friday morning as southerly winds start moving the smoke out of the state. By Friday afternoon, air quality should improve below alert levels statewide.
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
- 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.
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.
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.
—Information provided by the Minnesota Department of Health.