Air quality alert issued for parts of Minnesota, including Twin Cities metro, due to unhealthy ozone levels

The Twin Cities metro area is included in an air quality alert due to an increase in ground-level ozone, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

The alert is in effect Friday from noon to 8 p.m. for east central and southeast Minnesota. In addition to the metro, this includes St. Cloud, Rochester, Winona and the tribal nation of Prairie Island.

According to the MPCA, light winds over the past two days caused pollutants, such as nitrogen dioxide and volatile organic compounds, to accumulate over the area. Sunny skies and hot temperatures cause these pollutants to react, creating ozone. Since the current high pressure system over the area has not allowed that ozone to disperse, the ozone levels have reached unhealthy levels for sensitive groups.

The following list includes who may be impacted by the impacted air quality:

  • People who have asthma or other breathing conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic bronchitis, and emphysema
  • Children and teens
  • Those, at any age, who are doing extended or heavy, physical activity like playing sports or working outdoors
  • Some healthy people who are more sensitive to ozone even though they have none of the risk factors. There may be a genetic base for this increased sensitivity

Unhealthy ozone levels can cause more difficulty for those who have lung diseases. People with those conditions may experience shortness of breath, throat soreness, coughing, wheezing or unusual fatigue. Those who are showing these symptoms should use their inhaler as directed and contact their doctor.

Ozone concentrations will be lowest in the morning hours and will rise throughout the day. Air quality is expected to improve after the sun sets and temperatures go down.