MINNEAPOLIS — State health officials have expanded and extended an Air Quality Alert issued for a large portion of Minnesota and Wisconsin due to smoke from wildfires burning in Quebec, combined with sunny skies and warm temps.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) expanded the air quality alert for east central and southeastern Minnesota to include the North Shore and Duluth. The alert is effective until 6 p.m. on Tuesday, June 6. Some of the affected cities include the Twin Cities, Rochester, Mankato, Hinckley and Duluth. The heaviest smoke is expected to be near Rochester and Winona.
"Air quality is quickly deteriorating across northeast Minnesota, as the second wave of smoke moves into that area. Air quality should improve across northeast Minnesota tomorrow morning as smoke moves south and exits the region. However, smoke will linger across east central and southeast Minnesota through late Tuesday," according to the MPCA news release.
In Wisconsin, the alert is set to end at 11:59 p.m. Monday.
MPCA officials say Canadian wildfires are again to blame for the poor air, which has been a reoccurring problem. The conditions are expected to improve if any storms move through the region.
In Minnesota, the alert was initially set to expire Monday morning before the extension and expansion.
The MPCA's alerts are color-coded. Orange air quality is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups. Red air quality is unhealthy for everyone.
Officials say the smoke could aggravate heart and lung disease as well as cardiovascular and respiratory infections. According to the MPCA, symptoms could include chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, and fatigue.
People who need to be especially mindful of the alerts include:
- People who have asthma or other breathing conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- People who have heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes
- Pregnant people
- Children and older adults
People with increased exposure include:
- People of all ages who do longer or more vigorous physical activity outdoors
- People who work outdoors, especially workers who do heavy manual labor
- People who exercise or play sports outdoors, including children
- People who don’t have air conditioning and need to keep windows open to stay cool
- People in housing not tight enough to keep unhealthy air out, or who do not have permanent shelter.
Find more information about Air Quality Alerts here.
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