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Smoke from Canadian wildfires creating unhealthy air pollution levels in Minnesota

Nearly half the state is under an air quality alert.

Heavy smoke from Canadian wildfires is blowing into northern Minnesota, where it will remain for at least a few days while severely impacting air quality.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) issued an Air Quality Alert, effective Tuesday at noon through 9 a.m. Friday, warning of "fine particle levels" that will create unhealthy conditions for at least some groups of people. The alert impacts almost the entire northern half of the state.

The source of the smoke is wildfires in Ontario and Manitoba

Most counties in the air quality alert are at an orange level, meaning air pollution levels are considered unhealthy for sensitive groups — that is, children and older adults, people who have asthma or other breathing conditions, those with heart disease or high blood pressure, and people doing intense physical activity outdoors.

However, in far northern Minnesota along the Canadian border, some areas are under a red air quality alert, meaning pollution levels are unhealthy for everyone, the MPCA says.

The agency suggests everyone in the alert area should take precautions, including:

  • Limiting, changing or postponing physical activity
  • Taking it easy and listening to your body
  • Avoiding local sources of air pollution, such as wood fires or busy roadways
  • If you have asthma or other breathing conditions, keep an inhaler nearby

The wildfire smoke is also behind the hazy skies across portions of Minnesota in recent days, the National Weather Service has said.

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