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The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has extended its Air Quality Alert for Minnesota, including the Twin Cities, with air quality now at "unhealthy" levels for parts of the metro.

The alert has been extended through 6 p.m. Wednesday due to "fine particle pollution" that has been impacting the Twin Cities particularly for several days. 

"The Air Quality Index (AQI) is expected to reach the Red or Unhealthy category in parts of the Twin Cities Metropolitan Area including Minneapolis and St. Paul," the National Weather Service said.

"The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency indicates this is the worst winter stagnation event we've seen since 2005," it added.

A current check of the MPCA air quality page shows red "unhealthy" air quality in St. Paul and Shakopee. This means that some members of the public "may experience health effects" and those of sensitive group are at risk of serious health effects.

The Twin Cities is currently showing a fine particle rating of 160, which falls in the "unhealthy" range of 151-200. There are "unhealthy for sensitive groups" in Rochester and Detroit Lakes.

Bring Me The News meteorologist Sven Sundgaard explains that the pollution is being caused because it's cooler at the surface level than it is aloft, which traps particles at lower altitudes.

"It continues to be smoggy," said Sundgaard. "All the pollution that is normally spread out is stuck in the lower atmosphere, so that's why it's built up so much."

"We've had air quality indexes in the 140s and 150s in the Twin Cities. That's a lot of extra pollution, it's triple what you want it to be. This has been going on for the last several days."

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