In what the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is calling an unprecedented event, the Air Quality Alert for Minnesota that was set to expire Friday afternoon has now been extended through Tuesday.

In a statement released this afternoon the Minnesota PCA said:

Smoke from Canadian wildfires lingers over most of Minnesota. There will be some slight improvement in air quality throughout Friday and Friday night. However, on Saturday northerly winds behind a cold front will bring more smoke from wildfires located north of the Canadian border in Ontario and Manitoba into Minnesota. This reinforcing batch of heavy smoke is expected to arrive starting Saturday morning. Smoke will continue pouring into the state throughout Saturday and into Sunday. High pressure will build over the area for Sunday and remain over the area for Monday into Tuesday morning. Smoke will recirculate under the high pressure, leading to prolonged period of heavy smoke. Fine particle levels will begin to improve Tuesday as southerly winds start moving the smoke out of the state.

Minnesota PCA
Minnesota PCA
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On Thursday St. Cloud had the worst air quality in the state with the air quality monitor recording 422 micrograms per cubic meter at 11 am. That reading broke the state record set a couple of hours earlier at Brainerd of 401 micrograms per cubic meter. The last record set was 397 micrograms per cubic meter set last week in Red Lake.

Sensitive groups 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 (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.
  • People who don’t have air conditioning to reduce indoor air pollution.

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.

Minnesota PCA
Minnesota PCA

The Minnesota PCA recommends the following precautions:

  • Take it easy and listen to your body.Limit, change, or postpone your physical activity level.
  • If possible, stay away from local sources of air pollution like busy roads and wood fires.
  • Keep indoor air as clean as possible. Use indoor air filtration or air conditioning with the fresh-air intake closed/set on recirculate to reduce indoor air pollution.
  • 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.

The air quality levels are expected to begin to improve Friday morning as southerly winds start moving the smoke out of the state. By Friday afternoon, air quality should improve below alert levels across the state.

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