Air quality alert issued for most of Minnesota until Friday

An air quality alert has been issued for nearly all of Minnesota from Wednesday to Friday due to Canadian wildfire smoke, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency announced.

The alert was issued for nearly all of Minnesota, except the North Shore. The alert takes effect Wednesday, July 28, beginning at 10 p.m. and runs until Friday, July 30, at 3 p.m. The affected area includes Detroit Lakes, International Falls, Duluth, St Cloud, the Twin Cities, Marshall, Rochester and the tribal nations of Fond du Lac, Upper Sioux, Leech Lake, Red Lake, Mille Lacs and Prairie Island. 

According to the MPCA, northerly winds behind a cold front will bring smoke from wildfires located north of the Canadian border in Ontario and Manitoba into Minnesota. Heavy smoke is expected to arrive around 10 p.m. Wednesday near the Canadian border and mid-morning on Thursday in central and southern Minnesota. Smoke will remain over the area into Friday. During this time, fine particle levels are expected to be in the Orange AQI category, a level that is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups. 

Conditions will improve Friday morning as the winds start moving the smoke out of the state.

Sensitive groups include:

  • 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.
  • People who don’t have air conditioning to reduce indoor air pollution.

Everyone should take precautions when the air quality is unhealthy, including limiting physical activity outside and staying away from local sources of pollution.

During an air quality alert, residents are encouraged to reduce vehicle trips, postpone using gas-powered lawn equipment, and avoid backyard fires.