MPCA issues air pollution health alert for portions of MN
St. Paul -- The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has issued an air pollution health alert for western Minnesota effective until noon on Friday. Air quality monitors indicate fine particle pollution is increasing across the central plain states, extending from Oklahoma City to Fargo, and including air monitors located in Marshall, Fargo and Sioux Falls.
A strong temperature inversion, snow melt and morning fog are trapping fine particle pollution near the surface, causing fine-particle concentrations to reach a level considered unhealthy for sensitive groups. Populations sensitive to fine particles include those with pre-existing cardiovascular or respiratory disease, the elderly, children, and individuals who participate in activities requiring extended or heavy exertion, both indoors and outdoors. Members of these groups are encouraged to postpone or reduce vigorous activity and minimize exposure to local sources of air pollution (i.e.,heavy duty vehicle traffic, wood fires and candles). Even individuals who are otherwise healthy may experience health effects when pollution levels increase.
The fine particle pollution conditions are expected to persist until Friday morning, when a cold front passes over Minnesota bringing cleaner air into the region.
The MPCA issues an air pollution health alert when air quality conditions reach levels that are unhealthy for sensitive groups, or an Air Quality Index greater than 101. Air quality conditions are updated hourly at www.pca.state.mn.us/aqi.
Exposure to high levels of fine particles has been linked with both respiratory and cardiovascular health effects. Fine particles may exacerbate pre-existing health conditions and may cause individuals to experience chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing or fatigue. If you experience these symptoms, contact your physician.
Fine particles are produced from combustion activities, which include fossil fuel-based energy generation, motor vehicle exhaust, gasoline-powered yard and lawn equipment, and wood burning. Conserving energy, buying clean renewable power, and using alternate means of transportation, such as mass transit, will all reduce your daily contribution to air pollution.