Air quality alert extended until Tuesday, June 6, and expanded to include the North Shore and DuluthJun 06, 2023 08:09AM ● By Content Editor
From the MN Pollution Control Agency - June 6, 2023
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has expanded the air quality alert for east central and southeastern Minnesota to include the North Shore and Duluth area. The alert is now effective until 6 p.m. on Tuesday, June 6. The affected area includes the Twin Cities, Albert Lea, Rochester, Mankato, Hinckley, Duluth, Two Harbors, and the tribal nations of Prairie Island, Mille Lacs, Fond du Lac, and Grand Portage.
A band of smoke from wildfires in Quebec will continue to linger across east central and southeast Minnesota today due to very light winds. Another band of smoke is also moving into the state off Lake Superior. Air quality will continue to be poor today across east central and southeast Minnesota, with the heaviest smoke expected to be near Rochester and Winona. Air quality is quickly deteriorating across northeast Minnesota, as the second wave of smoke moves into that area. Air quality should improve across northeast Minnesota tomorrow morning as smoke moves south and exits the region. However, smoke will linger across east central and southeast Minnesota through late Tuesday.
Fine particle levels are expected to reach the red air quality index (AQI) category, a level considered unhealthy for everyone, across southeast Minnesota. This area includes Rochester and Winona. In the red area, everyone should avoid prolonged time outdoors.
Fine particle levels are expected to reach the orange air quality index (AQI) category, a level considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, across east central Minnesota. The alert area includes the Twin Cities, Albert Lea, Mankato, Hinckley, Duluth, Two Harbors, and the tribal nations of Prairie Island, Mille Lacs, Fond du Lac, and Grand Portage. In the orange area, sensitive groups should avoid prolonged time outdoors.
What this alert means
Air moves long distances and carries pollutants. During air quality alerts due to wildfires, the air is mixed with harmful smoke. Wildfire smoke spreads or lingers depending on the size of the fires, the wind, and the weather.
The air quality index (AQI) is color-coded. Air quality alerts are issued when the AQI is forecast to reach an unhealthy level, which includes forecasts in the orange, red, purple, and maroon categories. For a full description of each air quality category, visit airnow.gov.
Red air quality: Unhealthy for everybody
Sights and smells: In areas where air quality is in the red AQI category due to wildfires, the sky may look smoky. The air will look hazy, and you won’t be able to see long distances. You may smell smoke.
Health effects: This air is unhealthy for everyone. Anyone may begin to experience symptoms such as irritated eyes, nose, and throat, coughing, chest tightness, or shortness of breath. Sensitive or more exposed individuals may experience more serious health effects, including worsening of existing heart or lung disease and respiratory and cardiovascular conditions, possibly leading to an asthma attack, heart attack, or stroke.
What to do: Reduce outdoor physical activities, take more breaks, and avoid intense activities to reduce exposure. Sensitive and more exposed individuals should avoid prolonged or vigorous activities and consider shortening, rescheduling, or moving outdoor events inside.
Orange air quality: Unhealthy for sensitive groups
Sights and smells: In areas where air quality is in the orange AQI category due to wildfires, the sky may look hazy and residents may smell smoke even when wildfires are far away.
Health effects: This air is unhealthy for sensitive groups and pollution may aggravate heart and lung disease as well as cardiovascular and respiratory conditions. Symptoms may include chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, and fatigue.
What to do: People in sensitive groups are encouraged to reduce outdoor physical activities, take more breaks, or do less intense activities to reduce their exposure. People with asthma should follow their asthma action plan and keep their rescue inhaler nearby.
Who’s most at risk
Poor air quality impacts health. Fine particle pollution from wildfire smoke can irritate eyes, nose, and throat, and cause coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, dizziness, or fatigue. Smoke particles are small enough that they can be breathed deeply into lungs and enter the bloodstream. This can lead to illnesses such as bronchitis or aggravate existing chronic heart and lung diseases, triggering heart palpitations, asthma attacks, heart attacks, and strokes.
Certain groups experience health effects from unhealthy air quality sooner than others, either because they are more sensitive to fine particle pollution or because they are exposed to larger amounts of it.
Sensitive groups include:
- People who have asthma or other breathing conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
- People who have heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes.
- Pregnant people.
- Children and older adults.
People with increased exposure include:
- People of all ages who do longer or more vigorous physical activity outdoors.
- People who work outdoors, especially workers who do heavy manual labor.
- People who exercise or play sports outdoors, including children.
- People who don’t have air conditioning and need to keep windows open to stay cool.
- People in housing not tight enough to keep unhealthy air out, or who do not have permanent shelter.
Anyone experiencing health effects related to poor air quality should contact their health care provider. Those with severe symptoms, chest pain, trouble breathing, or who fear they may be experiencing a heart attack or stroke should call 911 immediately.
- Visit MPCA’s Air Quality Index webpage for information on current air quality conditions in your area.
- Sign up for daily air quality forecasts and alert notifications though EnviroFlash.
- Download the EPA AirNow mobile app from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store.
- Visit the MPCA's Air quality and you webpage for information about health and indoor and outdoor air quality and how to prevent air pollution.
- Visit the Minnesota Department of Health wildfire smoke webpage for actions you can take to protect your health against wildfire smoke.