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Air quality alert issued through Friday 

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has issued an air quality alert for nearly all of Minnesota, except the North Shore.

The alert took effect Wednesday night and runs until 3 p.m. Friday. The affected area includes Detroit Lakes, International Falls, Duluth, St Cloud, the Twin Cities, Marshall, Rochester, and the tribal nations of Fond du Lac, Upper Sioux, Leech Lake, Red Lake, Mille Lacs, and Prairie Island.

Northerly winds behind a cold front will bring smoke from wildfires located north of the Canadian border in Ontario and Manitoba into Minnesota. Heavy smoke is expected to arrive around 10 p.m. Wednesday near the Canadian border and mid-morning on Thursday in central and southern Minnesota. Smoke will remain over the area into Friday.

During this time, fine particle levels are expected to be in the Orange AQI category, a level that is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups. Fine particle levels will begin to improve Friday morning as southerly winds start moving the smoke out of the state. By Friday afternoon, air quality should improve below alert levels statewide.

People whose health is affected by unhealthy air quality:  There are people who are more likely to be affected when fine particle pollution reaches an unhealthy level.

  • People who have asthma or other breathing conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
  • People who have heart disease or high blood pressure.
  • Children and older adults.
  • People of all ages who are doing extended or heavy, physical activity like playing sports or working
  • People who don’t have air conditioning to reduce indoor air pollution.

Air pollution can aggravate heart and cardiovascular disease as well as lung diseases like asthma and COPD. When the air quality is unhealthy, people with these conditions may experience symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, or fatigue. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, use your inhalers as directed and contact your health care provider.