Air pollution health advisory issued for metro area through 8 a.m., April 15

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has issued an air pollution health alert for the metro area effective through 8 a.m., Friday, April 15. Air quality monitors indicate a plume of smoke stretching from western and northwest Iowa into western and southern Minnesota. The smoke, a result of fires across eastern Kansas and Nebraska, is expected to persist in this area through Friday morning. During this time, fine particle pollution is expected to remain near a level that is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups. On Friday morning, winds out of the southeast are expected to bring in cleaner air across the state of Minnesota.

An air pollution health advisory is issued when the air quality index 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.

Health precautions

Those who have respiratory or cardiovascular problems, young children, the elderly, and individuals whom are physically active are considered especially sensitive to elevated levels of air pollution. Be prepared to postpone or reduce vigorous activity. Ozone and fine particles can be drawn deeply into the lungs, so reduce activities that lead to deep or accelerated breathing. Even people who are otherwise healthy may feel health effects when air pollutant levels increase.

Health impacts: Exposure to high levels of fine particles is 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.

How you can help reduce air pollution

Residents can take simple steps over time to help reduce pollution that creates smog. Motor vehicle emissions contribute to fine particle pollution. To lower levels of air pollution, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency urges residents to use alternate modes of transportation whenever possible such as a bus or train, car pools, biking and walking.

Measures that will help reduce emissions on days when the air quality index reaches 100 and above include:

1. Limit driving - share a ride or take public transportation to work and postpone errands until the next day.

2. Don’t idle your vehicle for more than three minutes.*

3. Refuel your vehicle after 6 p.m.

4. Postpone using other gasoline-powered engines, like garden and recreational equipment.

5. Postpone indoor and outdoor recreational fires.

6. To reduce the demand on power plants, turn off as many electric items as possible.

7. If you fall in the sensitive group category, arrange to work indoors for the day.

The Air Quality Index is updated hourly (during the day) by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. You can sign up for alerts at http://mn.enviroflash.info.

*The City of Minneapolis has limits on vehicle idling that aim to reduce air pollution in Minneapolis. The ordinance limits most vehicle idling to three minutes, except in traffic. Reducing vehicle idling in Minneapolis translates into less air pollution, protecting the public health and the environment and saving money in fuel. Vehicle motors release particulate matter, dirt, nitrous oxides, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide into the air.

Published Apr 14, 2016

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