MPCA issues air quality alert for much of Minnesota

Staff photo by Fritz Busch Haze reported to be wildfire smoke from Ontario and Manitoba, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), can be been looking east from the Center Street hill near the Hermann Monument Wednesday morning. Air quality is forecast to improve Thursday, July 22.

ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) issued an air quality alert for much of Minnesota Tuesday, until 6 a.m. Thursday, July 22.

The MPCA reported the alert was made due to fine particles due to wildlife smoke in Ontario and Manitoba, measured heaviest in northwest Minnesota.

Fine particle pollution was measured at 158, (unhealthy), by the MPCA Wednesday morning.

Winds became light across the region, and poor dispersion led to prolonged smoke levels, according to the MPCA.

Very unhealthy air quality was forecast Tuesday from Brainerd to Red Lake. Unhealthy air quality was forecast across the rest of northern Minnesota Tuesday.

The affected area includes Hibbing, International Falls, Bemidji, Roseau, East Grand Forks, Moorhead, Brainerd, St. Cloud, the Twin Cities, Rochester, Mankato, and the tribal areas of Leech Lake, Red Lake, Fond du Lac, Mille Lacs, Upper Sioux, and Prairie Island.

Winds are forecast to become more southerly Wednesday, causing a slight air quality improvement.

The MPCA forecast for Thursday is widespread haze before 8 a.m. and after 3 p.m. Smoke is forecast to move out of the state Thursday and air quality values are predicted to improve to moderate across most of Minnesota.

People whose health is affected by unhealthy air quality include those with asthma and other breathing conditions, children, and people of all ages doing extended or heavy physical activity like playing sports or working outdoors.

Recommended precautions according to MPCA:

• Taking it easy and listening to your body.

• Limiting, changing, or postponing physical activity levels.

• Avoid local air pollution sources like busy roads and wood fires.

• If you have asthma or other breathing conditions like COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), a condition involving constriction of the airways and difficulty or discomfort in breathing, make sure you have your relief/rescue inhaler with you.

• People with asthma should review and follow guidance in their written asthma action plan. If you don’t have an action plan, make an appointment with your health provider to make one.

Air pollution can aggravate heart and cardiovascular disease plus lung diseases like asthma and COPD. Symptoms that may be experienced include chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, or fatigue.

Pollution reduction tips include:

• Limiting vehicle trips.

• Using public transport or carpooling.

• Postponing use of gasoline-powered lawn and garden equipment on air alert days. Use battery or manual equipment instead.

• Avoid backyard fires.

For more information, visit https://www.pca.state/mn.us/

Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com).


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