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Air quality alert issued through Sunday due to wildfire smoke

Statewide air quality alert issued for Minnesota due to wildfire smoke for Friday, August 10 into Sunday, August 12. An Air Quality Alert has been issued for all of Minnesota due to periods of wildfire smoke through midday Sunday. More info is available at https://www.pca.state.mn.us/air/current-air-quality.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency issued a statewide air quality alert through Sunday, Aug. 12, due to smoke spreading across northern Minnesota on Friday, and southern Minnesota on Saturday.

Smoke from wildfires in western Canada will continue to affect Minnesota Friday afternoon and evening. Air Quality Indices in the orange category will spread eastward across northern Minnesota Friday evening, making air quality unhealthy for sensitive groups. The indices will also be orange across far western Minnesota Friday evening as smoke continues to sit over that region.

Meanwhile a thick blanket of smoke is expected to arrive in the upper-levels of the atmosphere this afternoon and evening across southern parts of the state. However, smoke is not expected to impact air quality from St Cloud, to the Twin Cities and Rochester until midday Saturday. Periods of smoke and orange indices will linger over the state Saturday night before a south wind brings in cleaner air by Sunday afternoon.

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, known as 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.

Pollution reduction tips: The main sources of fine particle pollution is any activity that uses fuel. Conserving energy and buying clean, renewable energy are great lifestyle choices to help reduce overall pollution.

• Reduce vehicle trips.

• Encourage use of public transport, or carpool, when possible.

• Postpone use of gasoline powered lawn and garden equipment on air alert days. Use battery or manual equipment instead.

• Avoid backyard fires.

Brainerd area forecast: According to the National Weather Service in Duluth, the weekend forecast for the Brainerd lakes area is expected to be mostly sunny with high temperatures in the upper 80s. The next chance of precipitation is Tuesday.

For information on current air quality conditions in specific areas and to sign up for daily air quality forecasts and alert notifications by email, text message, phone, or the Minnesota Air mobile app visit MPCA's Air Quality Index webpage. Additional information about health and indoor and outdoor air quality may be found at Air Quality and Health webpage.

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