The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has issued an air quality alert that spans all of Northern Minnesota, including the Duluth area, starting the afternoon of Thursday August 16 through noon on Sunday, August 19.

The alert covers the entire northern half of the state, including areas as far south as Little Falls, Hinckley, and Alexandria and spanning all the way to the Canadian border. The reason for the alert is due to wildfire smoke from fires in Canada that will be moving back into the area through the next few days, similar to how last weekend saw lower air quality from some of the same fires.

The MPCA explains that the smoke will will envelop much of the advised area by sometime Friday morning. There is a chance that southern portions of the state may also be impacted through the weekend, and conditions will be monitored through the weekend.

While negative health impacts are possible for everyone spending time outdoors, those that are in the below categories may be especially impacted:

  • People who have asthma or other breathing conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • People who have heart disease or high blood pressure
  • Children and older adults
  • People of all ages who are doing extended or heavy, physical activity like playing sports or working outdoors

The MPCA explains that air pollution can aggravate heart and cardiovascular disease as well as lung diseases like asthma and COPD. When the air quality is unhealthy, people with these conditions may experience symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, or fatigue. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, use your inhalers as directed and contact your health care provider.

To minimize impacts, the MPCA offers the following advice:

  • Take it easy and listen to your body.
  • Limit, change, or postpone your physical activity level.
  • If possible, stay away from local sources of air pollution like busy roads and wood fires.
  • If you have asthma or other breathing conditions like COPD make sure you have your relief/rescue inhaler with you.
  • People with asthma should review and follow guidance in their written asthma action plan. Make an appointment to see your health provider if you don’t have an asthma action plan.

You can monitor current air quality conditions anytime by visiting the link below.