Update: Air Quality Alert Issued for Northern and Central Minnesota
Update: This evening, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency issued an Air Quality Alert for northern, central, and southeast Minnesota, effective Tuesday, July 20 through Thursday, July 22 at 6 AM. 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.
Heavy smoke from wildfires located north of the Canadian border in Ontario and Manitoba was transported into northern Minnesota overnight by northerly winds. Today, fine particle levels are expected to remain in the Purple AQI category, a level considered very unhealthy for everyone, across north central Minnesota. Heavy smoke will remain in this area through Wednesday. Tomorrow, fine particle levels are expected to be in the Red AQI category, a level considered unhealthy for everyone, across northern Minnesota.
Smoke is expected to mix down to the ground over northern Wisconsin and move into central and southeast Minnesota this afternoon. Fine particle levels are expected to reach the Orange AQI category, a level that is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, today across central and southeast Minnesota and remain in the Orange AQI category tomorrow. Fine particle levels will begin to improve across the state beginning Wednesday evening as winds will begin to move the smoke out of the state. By Thursday morning, air quality should be improved below alert levels statewide.
There is an air quality alert in place for northern Minnesota from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). It is effective Monday, July 19 beginning at 9 PM through Wednesday, July 21 at 9 AM. The affected area includes Hibbing, International Falls, Bemidji, Roseau, East Grand Forks, and the tribal areas of Leech Lake and Red Lake.
Smoke from wildfires located north of the Canadian border in Ontario and Manitoba will be transported by northerly winds behind a front moving into the northern portions of the state. Heavy smoke is expected to arrive Monday evening and additional smoke may mix down to the ground Tuesday afternoon. During this time, fine particle levels are expected to be in the Orange AQI category, a level that is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, across north central and northwest Minnesota. The smoke will remain over the region through Wednesday morning, when southerly winds will push the smoke northward and out of the state.
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.
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.
There are precautions that those affected can take.
- 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.
- 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.