Air pollution alert expanded to all of MN; Twin Cities air is worse than Beijing

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The air quality throughout Minnesota has gotten worse over the course of the day Monday, because of smoke blowing in from Canadian forest fires.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency upgraded its air pollution health alert Monday afternoon to include the entire state.

As of 3 p.m., the air quality across Minnesota had reached levels considered unhealthy for everyone, according to the MPCA, but especially in a diagonal band through Marshall, St. Cloud, Brainerd, Duluth and Grand Portage (it's the orange area on the map).

 Air quality map Monday July 6, approx. 3 pm.

Air quality map Monday July 6, approx. 3 pm.

Air quality in the Twin Cities metro area has deteriorated over the last several hours. The air quality index, or AQI, reached 187 Monday afternoon, which is considered very unhealthy.

People around the state are noticing the haze as well as the smell of the smoky air, which some compared to the smell of burning plastic.

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You can check current air quality conditions by clicking here, or by downloading the MPCA's mobile app "Minnesota Air."

The MPCA issues an air pollution health alert when air quality conditions reach unhealthy levels for sensitive groups.

Fine particle pollution is at a level considered unhealthy for everyone, and people may begin to experience some health effects, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing or fatigue. Anyone experiencing those symptoms should contact their physician, the MPCA says.

Members of sensitive populations –including those with preexisting cardiovascular or respiratory disease, the elderly, children, and individuals who participate in activities requiring extended or heavy exertion, both indoors and outdoors – could experience more serious health effects.

They're encouraged to minimize exposure (so avoid things like vehicle traffic, wood fires and candles) and stop any vigorous activity.

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