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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

MPCA issues air pollution health advisory for central, southern Minnesota

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has issued an air pollution health advisory for central and southern Minnesota effective early Thursday morning through early evening of Thursday, January 21. 

Air quality monitors indicate slowly-rising fine particle pollution values across the majority of the state of Minnesota. Overnight Wednesday, a combination of low clouds and fog and light southeasterly to easterly winds are expected to cause fine particle pollution to approach a level considered unhealthy. The peak will be during the morning rush hour and to continue into the late afternoon hours on Thursday, January 21. Much of central and southern Minnesota will be impacted. Conditions are expected to improve by late afternoon or early evening on Thursday when increased northwesterly winds begin to disperse pollutants.

An air pollution health advisory is issued when the AQI approaches but is expected to remain below 101, a level considered Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups. The MPCA issues an air pollution health alert when air quality is expected to reach and remain above that level..

At-risk Populations: Fine particle pollution is expected to be near a level considered unhealthy for sensitive groups. Populations sensitive to fine particles include 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. Members of these groups are encouraged to postpone or reduce vigorous activity and minimize exposure to local sources of air pollution (i.e., heavy duty vehicle traffic, wood fires, and candles). Even individuals who are otherwise healthy may experience health effects when pollution levels increase. 

Health Impacts: Exposure to high levels of fine particles has been linked with both respiratory and cardiovascular health effects. Fine particles may exacerbate pre-existing health conditions and may cause individuals to experience chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing or fatigue. If you experience these symptoms, contact your physician. 

Pollution-reduction Tips: Fine particles are produced from combustion activities, which include fossil fuel-based energy generation, motor vehicle exhaust, gasoline-powered snow-clearing equipment, and wood burning. Conserving energy, buying clean renewable power, and utilizing alternate means of transportation, such as mass transit, will all reduce your daily contribution to air pollution. During air quality alerts, residents are particularly encouraged to postpone or reduce vehicle trips and engine idling, the use of gasoline-powered equipment, and burning wood. 

Visit http://www.pca.state.mn.us for information on current air quality conditions in your area. To receive daily air quality forecasts and air quality alert notifications by email or text message sign up at http://mn.enviroflash.info.

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