Air quality alert issued for Thursday, Sept. 14

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has issued an air quality alert for the metro area for noon-8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 14.

Temperatures near 90 degrees, wildfire smoke and plentiful sunshine will combine to create air quality index levels in the orange range: unhealthy for sensitive groups. The worst conditions are expected during the afternoon and early evening across the Twin Cities metro area into central Minnesota. Ozone values should decrease back to yellow (moderate) levels as the sun sets Thursday evening. Wildfire smoke will continue to keep fine particle levels elevated in the yellow category after ozone decreases.

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 effects: 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

Residents can take simple steps to help reduce the 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 at dawn or dusk.

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 Sep 13, 2017

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