Almost all of Minnesota is under an air quality alert until Friday afternoon, with wildfire smoke resulting in high fine particle levels across the state.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's (MPCA) air quality alert blankets the state, affecting everywhere except the far northeastern counties of Cook and Lake. It's in effect from 10 p.m. Wednesday through 3 p.m. Friday. Here's a look:
The cause, as has been the case often of late, is smoke from Canadian wildfires, specifically in Ontario and Manitoba, that pushed into Minnesota thanks to some northerly winds behind a cold front. Fine particle levels are expected to be unhealthy for sensitive groups as the smoke lingers.
But Thursday morning, air quality levels in some parts of the state were even worse than that. At 8 a.m., the Twin Cities' air quality was unhealthy for everyone, while central Minnesota — including Brainerd and St. Cloud — faced "very unhealthy" air.
Those more likely to be impacted by air pollution (people with breathing conditions, those with heart disease or high blood pressure, children, adults and people doing physical work outside) may experience effects such as:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
Everyone should take precautions, including limiting physical activity outdoors, staying away from pollution sources (such as busy roads or wood fires) and actively listening to their body, taking it easy when necessary.