Air pollution health alert and advisory issued through Wednesday, March 10

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has issued an air pollution health ALERT for today and tomorrow, March 8 and 9 and an air pollution health ADVISORY for Wednesday, March 10 for the Twin Cities and Rochester area. The Air Quality Index values (AQI) in the Twin Cities exceeds the level considered unhealthy for sensitive groups.  

Dense fog overnight, which aids in fine particle production, and calm winds, have allowed fine particle concentrations to build to levels considered unhealthy for sensitive groups.  Fine particle levels are expected to gradually fall this afternoon as the fog dissipates.  However, calm winds and high relative humidity will continue to trap pollutants, keeping air quality conditions unhealthy for sensitive groups.  Weather conditions are supposed to improve the air quality to good AQI levels by Thursday, March 11.

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.


Published Mar 8, 2010