Air pollution health advisory and alert issued for metro area, Feb. 19 and 20

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has issued an air pollution health ADVISORY for Feb. 19, and an air pollution health ALERT for Feb. 20 for the Twin Cities and Rochester area. The Air Quality Index values (AQI) in the Twin Cities exceeds or will exceed 101, the level considered unhealthy for sensitive groups.  

Light to calm winds and an overnight inversion of temperatures have led to the trapping and buildup of fine level particles in the region. Increased wind speeds from the north between Sunday and Tuesday are expected to help improve the air quality to good AQI levels.

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 individuals that are otherwise healthy may experience health effects when air pollutant levels increase.

How you can help:

Residents can take simple steps to help reduce emissions that create smog. Motor vehicle emissions contribute to fine particle pollution. To lower levels of air pollution, the MPCA is urging residents to use alternate modes of transportation such as mass transit, car pools, biking and walking to work or shop.

Other measures that will help reduce emissions on days when the Index reaches 100 and above include:

1. Limit driving - share a ride 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. Leave your car at home and walk, bike, carpool or take public transportation whenever you can.

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

6. Postpone indoor and outdoor recreational fires.

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

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

**The City of Minneapolis approved limits on vehicle idling that aim to reduce air pollution in Minneapolis. The ordinance, which was passed in 2008, 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.

The http://mn.enviroflash.info.

Published Feb. 19, 2010