Air quality alert expanded in northern Minnesota due to Canadian wildfire smoke

An air quality alert is in effect through Friday, July 14 at 9 a.m. (Minnesota Pollution Control Agency)

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency expanded its air quality alert for northern Minnesota as smoke from wildfires in Canada moves into the area. 

The air quality alert is in effect through Friday at 9 a.m. The affected area includes Duluth, Cloquet, Hinckley, Ely, Hibbing, International Falls, Two Harbors, Grand Marais, Grand Portage, Bemidji, Roseau, Moorhead, East Grand Forks, Brainerd, Alexandria and the tribal areas of Fond du Lac, Grand Portage, Leech Lake, Mille Lacs and Red Lake. 

The MPCA said heavy smoke is expected to remain over the area into Friday morning. During that time, fine particle levels are expected to be at a level across northern and western Minnesota considered unhealthy for all individuals and at a level across central Minnesota considered unhealthy for sensitive groups.

People who are more likely to be affected by unhealthy air quality are those with asthma or other breathing conditions, those who have heart disease or high blood pressure, children and older adults and people who are doing extended or heavy, physical activity like playing sports or working outdoors. 

People are advised to take the following precautions: 

  • 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.

MPCA officials also advise avoiding backyard fires and not using gasoline-powered lawn and garden equipment on air alert days.