The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has issued an air quality alert effective from 10 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 5, until 9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 6, for west-central, northwestern, and north-central Minnesota. The affected areas include Roseau, Baudette, International Falls, East Grand Forks, Moorhead, Detroit Lakes, Bemidji, Brainerd, Ortonville, Alexandria, and St. Cloud and the tribal nations of Leech Lake, Mille Lacs and Red Lake.

A cold front will push across northwestern Minnesota Thursday. Behind this cold front, northwestern winds will transport smoke from fires burning in southern Canada south across northern Minnesota, according to the MPCA release.

Fine particle levels are expected to reach the Red AQI category, a level considered unhealthy for everyone, across far northern Minnesota today. This area includes Roseau, Baudette, and International Falls, and the tribal nation of Red Lake, the release said.

Fine particle levels are expected to reach the Orange AQI category, a level that is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, for north central, west-central, and northwest Minnesota today. This area includes East Grand Forks, Moorhead, Detroit Lakes, Bemidji, Brainerd, Ortonville, Alexandria, and St. Cloud, and the tribal nations of Leech Lake and Mille Lacs.

Sensitive groups whose health is affected by unhealthy air quality:

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  • People who have asthma or other breathing conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
  • 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.

Possible health effects:

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. Anyone experiencing any of these symptoms is encouraged to use their inhalers as directed and contact their health care provider.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has issued an air quality alert effective from 10 a.m. on Thursday, Aug 5, until 9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 6, for west-central, northwestern, and north-central Minnesota. Contributed / MPCA
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has issued an air quality alert effective from 10 a.m. on Thursday, Aug 5, until 9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 6, for west-central, northwestern, and north-central Minnesota. Contributed / MPCA

In areas where air quality is in the Red (Unhealthy) AQI category, sensitive individuals may experience an increased aggravation of heart or lung disease and respiratory conditions. The general population may also experience increased respiratory effects.

In areas where air quality is in the Orange (Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups) AQI category, sensitive individuals may experience an aggravation of heart or lung disease and an increased likelihood of respiratory conditions.

Everyone should take the following precautions when the air quality is unhealthy:

  • 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 the guidance in their written asthma action plan. Make an appointment to see your health provider if you don’t have an asthma action plan.

In areas where air quality is in the Red (Unhealthy) AQI category, sensitive individuals should avoid prolonged exertion. Everyone else should limit prolonged exertion.

In areas where air quality is in the Orange (Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups) AQI category, sensitive individuals should limit prolonged exertion.

The sun's red tinge is a result of dense smoke particles in the upper reaches of the atmosphere interacting with sunlight, scattering incoming light into the long wavelengths of red light. (Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer)
The sun's red tinge is a result of dense smoke particles in the upper reaches of the atmosphere interacting with sunlight, scattering incoming light into the long wavelengths of red light. (Annalise Braught / Bemidji Pioneer)

Pollution reduction tips:

The main source of fine particle pollution is any activity that uses fuel. Conserving energy and buying clean, renewable energy are great lifestyle choices to help reduce overall pollution.

  • Reduce vehicle trips.
  • Encourage use of public transport, or carpool, when possible.
  • Postpone use of gasoline-powered lawn and garden equipment on air alert days. Use battery or manual equipment instead.
  • Avoid backyard fires.

For information on current air quality conditions in your area and to sign up for daily air quality forecasts and alert notifications by email, text message, phone or the Minnesota Air mobile app, visit the MPCA’s Air Quality Index webpage.

Additional information about health and indoor and outdoor air quality can be found on the Air Quality and Health webpage.