Air pollution health alert issued for Twin Cities for June 7

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has issued an air pollution health alert due to elevated ozone levels for the Twin Cities metro area for Tuesday, June 7. The Air Quality Index values (AQI) in the Twin Cities are expected to reach 111. The MPCA issues an air pollution health alert when the Air Quality Index (AQI) exceeds or is expected to exceed 101, the level considered unhealthy for sensitive groups.

Mostly sunny skies and temperatures in the upper 90s are enhancing ozone formation in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Furthermore, transported smoke from wildfires in Arizona will aid ozone and particle production. As a result, AQI levels will be unhealthy for sensitive groups for ozone. Tomorrow, a cold front will move through the Twin Cities in the morning, causing winds to become moderate west-northwesterly and bringing in a cooler, cleaner air mass. These conditions will disperse pollutants and lower AQI levels to low-moderate. Air quality is expected to return to good conditions Thursday.

Health Precautions:

Those who have respiratory or cardiovascular problems, young children, the elderly, and individuals who 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 the causes of elevated ozone levels. Ozone is produced in hot, sunny weather by a chemical reaction between pollutants released from motor vehicles, lawn and garden equipment, paints and solvents, refueling stations, and other activities which require fuel combustion. Conserving energy, buying clean renewable power, and using alternate means of transportation will all reduce your daily contribution to air 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 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 AQI is updated on an hourly basis (during the daytime hours) by the MPCA. You can sign up for alerts at mn.enviroflash.info.

Published Jun. 7, 2011