An air quality alert has been issued for the Twin Cities and parts of central and southeast Minnesota through Thursday evening due to higher levels of fine particles.

Affected areas include the Twin Cities metro, Willmar, Hutchinson, Mankato, Albert Lea, Rochester, Winona, and the Tribal Nations of Prairie Island and Upper Sioux. Light winds, fog, and a strong inversion have resulted in poor dispersion and air pollutants are accumulating and becoming trapped near the ground.

Those conditions will continue over the next couple of days as this plume of fine particles slowly moves across central and southeast Minnesota.  Things should improve Thursday afternoon when a front moves across the state and brings cleaner air into the region.

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 outdoors

Health effects

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.

Take precautions

Everyone should take precautions when the air quality is unhealthy.

  • Take it easy and listen to your body.
  • Limit, change, or postpone your physical activity level.
  • If possible, stay away from local sources of air pollution like busy roads and wood fires.
  • If you have asthma or other breathing conditions like COPD make sure you have your relief/rescue inhaler with you.
  • People with asthma should review and follow guidance in their written asthma action plan. Make an appointment to see your health provider if you don’t have an asthma action plan.