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Minnesota's air quality improving, per annual report

Duluth was also ranked one of America's six "cleanest cities" for air quality.

Minnesota’s air quality is largely improving, according to a recent report.

The American Lung released its annual State of the Air report Tuesday. The report rates states and counties on criteria including number of high ozone days and particle pollution in a given area.

It however looks at data from three years, in this case 2016-2018, so it does not yet account for any change in air quality relating to the COVID-19 outbreak.

In this year's report, four Minnesota counties saw their particle pollution grades improve from a B to an A: Becker, Lake, Stearns and Washington.

Hennepin County received a B in particle pollution and an A in number of high ozone days (it had an average of zero), while Ramsey received a C in particle pollution.

Scott County received an A in particle pollution and a B in high ozone days with an average of 0.7 days, while Dakota County received a B in particle pollution.

Wright County received the state’s lowest grade for high ozone days, moving from a B last year to a C with an average of 1.3 days.

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According to the Environmental Protection Agency, breathing in ozone can cause chest pain, coughing and other respiratory issues. Exposure can also worsen conditions like asthma.

Duluth was one of America’s six “cleanest cities” for its ozone and particle pollution numbers, according to the report. St. Louis County received an A in high ozone days and a B in particle pollution.

“We are pleased with Minnesota’s grades in this year’s report,” said Robert Moffitt, a spokesperson for the American Lung Association in Minnesota in a statement. “As we emerge from this pandemic, our state and our nation will be faced with decisions on its path forward.”

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