Smoke from Canadian Wildfires Leads to Poor Air Quality in Minnesota
Heavy smoke from wildfires north of the Canadian border reached Minnesota overnight, and air quality continued to diminish throughout the day on Tuesday.
The air quality index, or AQI, is the standard measure used in the United States, and is determined by two different factors: ozone levels from things like vehicles, and particulate matter like smoke. When the AQI gets between 100 and 150, the air becomes unhealthy for those with pre-existing lung or heart conditions or diseases (such as asthma or COPD), for anyone under 18, or for anyone over 65. For those that fall into this category, it doesn’t take much exposure for it to take a toll on their bodies.
In Brainerd, levels rose as high as 305, which is categorized as hazardous to anyone, while for a majority of Minnesota, the AQI is hovering along the unhealthy (151-200) or very unhealthy (201-300) measures.
With the AQI rising to unhealthy numbers for the general public, going outside isn’t discouraged, but some activities like exercise, or anything that will increase your respiratory rate, are better done indoors.
With summer in full swing, many Minnesotans are currently using air conditioners. But unless you have a HEPA filter on your unit, you might be inviting unhealthy air into your home. To further limit your exposure, make sure your windows are shut and that your house is as closed and airtight as you can get it.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has issued an air quality alert that lasts until Thursday, July 22 at 6 AM.