Air quality alert updated in Minnesota

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) issued an air quality alert due to increased wildfire smoke levels for nearly all of Minnesota, except the North Shore. The air quality alert continues through Friday, July 30 at 3 p.m.

Northerly winds continue to bring the smoke from wildfires located north of the Canadian border in Ontario and Manitoba into Minnesota, decreasing visibility in addition to diminishing air quality. Don’t be surprised if you can smell the smoke in the air.

A brief period of very heavy smoke is expected to impact north central Minnesota Thursday morning and south central Minnesota Thursday afternoon. The MPCA says air quality is expected to improve this afternoon across north central and northeast Minnesota.

According to the MPCA, fine particle levels are expected to reach the Red AQI category, a level considered unhealthy for everyone, across north central and south central Minnesota. This area includes Roseau, Baudette, Detroit Lakes, St Cloud, Mankato, the western half of the Twin Cities, and the tribal nations of Upper Sioux, Leech Lake, Red Lake, and Mille Lacs.

Fine particle levels are expected to be in the Orange AQI category, a level that is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, for the remainder of the alert area.

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, heart disease or high blood pressure will be affected by the air quality. Children and older adults, along with people doing extended periods of activity outdoors may have problems.

Health officials say 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. Close windows, postpone physical activities. If you have asthma or other breathing conditions like COPD make sure you have your relief/rescue inhaler with you.