Wildfire smoke blankets Twin Cities as air quality warning is expanded

The alert is in effect until 6 a.m. Thursday.

Much of Minnesota is under an air quality warning thanks to the wildfires in Canada. 

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency issued an air quality alert for northern, central and southeast Minnesota, including the Twin Cities, from Tuesday through 6 a.m. Thursday.

Northerly winds blew heavy smoke from wildfires just north of the Canadia border into Minnesota. As a result, fine particle levels have reached rates that are considered unhealthy for everyone. 

Related: Photos: Canadian wildfires fill northern Minnesota skies with smoke

Last week, northern Minnesota was under an air quality alert due to "fine particle levels" being at unhealthy levels for some groups of people. 

"Park Rapids, and a few other northern Minnesota spots saw their levels diminish to as much as 249 (essentially 10 times the 'junk' in the air from what is considered healthy). At those levels pretty much everyone should stay inside breathing," writes meteorologist Sven Sundgaard

The MPCA says fine particle levels will start to improve across Minnesota Wednesday evening as winds help move the smoke out of the state. 

Air quality should be improved below alert levels by Thursday morning across Minnesota, the MPCA notes. 

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 smoke from the wildfires in Manitoba and Ontario is also behind the hazy skies across portions of Minnesota in recent days.

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