Air Quality Alert increases and extended into Thursday

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has extended an air quality alert due to wildfire smoke for Tuesday through Thursday, July 22 at 6 a.m. Heavy smoke from wildfires located north of the Canadian border in Ontario and Manitoba moved into northern Minnesota overnight by northerly winds. The alert has been upgraded to Purple AQI conditions which means conditions are very unhealthy, and the MPCA says all individuals will be impacted.

The alert includes northern, central, and southeast Minnesota, including the Twin Cities Metro. Officials anticipate the worst conditions to be primarily in Cass and Crow Wing Co.

The MPCA says heavy smoke will remain in this area through Wednesday. On Thursday, 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.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Air Quality Advisory will remain in effect until midnight Wednesday, July 21. This advisory affects people in all Wisconsin counties.

People with asthma or other breathing conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease or high blood pressure, the elderly or people doing extended or heavy, physical activity may feel the affects of the bad air quality.

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.

Everyone should take precautions when the air quality is unhealthy. Limit, change or postpone outdoor activities. If you have asthma or other breathing conditions like COPD make sure you have your relief/rescue inhaler with you.