Minneapolis Health Department

Public Service Center
250 S. 4th. Street, Room 510
Minneapolis, MN 55415
(612) 673-2301

Minneapolis Air Quality

Air quality is an important priority for the city as strong links exist between air pollution and health problems, especially for sensitive groups such as the elderly, children and those with respiratory and cardiac problems.  

Minneapolis air quality in the news


Air Quality in Minneapolis: A Neighborhood Approach

Environmental Services is conducting a two-year citywide study of volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).

Air quality study details:

How are air samples collected?

Summa canisters are used to collect whole air samples. Summa canisters are passivated vessels which are about the size of a basketball.

 Summa Canister for collecting air samples A summa canister for collecting air samples.

What are VOCs?

A map showing collection sites with a VOC over health risk value can be found here or at http://bit.ly/1zU5rRY.

Why is ground level ozone a concern?

Breathing ozone can trigger a variety of health problems including chest pain, coughing, throat irritation, and congestion. It can worsen bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma. Ground level ozone also can reduce lung function and inflame the linings of the lungs. Repeated exposure may permanently scar lung tissue. -EPA

Young volunteers with Arne the Air Canister Young volunteers with Arnie the Air Canister

MPCA monitoring

In Minnesota, ground-level ozone, sulfur-dioxide, carbon-monoxide and fine particles are monitored by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). Air quality is monitored in Minneapolis by collecting data from nine air quality readers. This data is fed to the MPCA which compiles a statewide air quality index that is updated hourly.

According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, ozone (smog) and fine particles (soot or PM2.5) are the two major statewide concerns. MPCA uses U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index (AQI) that translates pollutant measurement to a common index, where an AQI value of 100 is set to reflect where health effects might be considered unhealthy for sensitive groups.

MPCA’s Air Quality index grid and legend. For more information on color-coded AQI health effects and cautionary statements, visit aqi.pca.state.mn.us.

Smog occurs mainly during the warm weather months, while fine particles are monitored year-round as even mid-range levels (101-150 particles) can be considered unhealthy for sensitive groups. Fine particles are primarily a result of industrial and vehicle combustion. People with heart or lung conditions are especially vulnerable to fine particle pollution.

Air Quality Reports:
Minneapolis Air Quality Study

Minneapolis Air Quality Study

Air Quality Links:
Metro area air quality (updated hourly)
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency - Air
Common Air Pollutants - EPA

What you can do to reduce air pollution:
EPA Climate Change – What You Can Do
Energy Star – Steps You Can Take To Reduce Air Pollution
CA Air Resources Board – What You Can Do

What to do when the air quality reaches unhealthy levels:
Air Quality Index and Your Health - EPA (pdf)

Ideas for teachers and educators:
CA Air Resources Board – Know Zone
Iowa DNR Air Quality – Education Tools
Community Learning Network – Air Quality Resources Texas Commission on Environmental Quality – Lesson Plans

To file a complaint regarding air emissions, odor or dust in Minneapolis, use the Environmental Management Online Complaint Form.

Last updated Sep 25, 2015