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:
- Air samples will be collected eight times quarterly from November 2013 to August 2015
- Each air sample is collected for 72 hours (three days)
- Approximately 120 collection canisters are placed citywide at the same time for each air collection event. Canisters are placed on residential, commercial, Park Board and City property.
- Residential volunteers are an essential part of this study.
- Each canister is analyzed for 72 VOCs looking for VOCs over health risk value (HRV). An HRV is the amount of a chemical, above which, begins to pose a risk to human health.
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.
A summa canister for collecting air samples.
What are VOCs?
- Chemicals that easily evaporate and enter the surrounding air. Some examples are paints, dry cleaning solvents (PERC), and auto repair products.
- A variety of chemicals some of which may have short and long term adverse health effects.
A contributor to ground level ozone
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 Arnie the Air Canister
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.
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