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MPCA extends ‘unprecedented’ air quality alert until Tuesday

DULUTH, MN -- The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has expanded and extended its air quality alert, calling it an "unprecedented" situation.

The alert is now in effect until 12 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 3.

The affected area includes all of Minnesota, and the tribal nations of Grand Portage, Fond du Lac, Upper Sioux, Leech Lake, Red Lake, Mille Lacs, and Prairie Island.

RELATED: WATCH: President Biden, Gov. Walz discuss Canadian wildfire air quality crisis

Smoke from Canadian wildfires lingers over most of Minnesota.

The MPCA reports that there will be some slight improvement in air quality throughout Friday and Friday night.

However, on Saturday northerly winds behind a cold front will bring more smoke from wildfires located north of the Canadian border in Ontario and Manitoba into Minnesota.

This reinforcing batch of heavy smoke is expected to arrive starting Saturday morning.

Smoke will continue pouring into the state throughout Saturday and into Sunday.

High pressure will build over the area for Sunday and remain over the area for Monday into Tuesday morning. Smoke will recirculate under high pressure, leading to a prolonged period of heavy smoke.

Fine particle levels will begin to improve Tuesday as southerly winds start moving the smoke out of the state.

Fine particle levels are expected to reach the Purple AQI category, a level considered very unhealthy for everyone, across north central and south-central Minnesota. This area includes Roseau, Baudette, Hibbing, Brainerd, St Cloud, the Twin Cities, and the tribal nations of Red Lake, Leech Lake, and Mille Lacs. Fine particle levels are expected to reach the Red AQI category, a level considered unhealthy for everyone, across northern, central, and southeast Minnesota. This area includes East Grand Forks, Moorhead, Ely, Detroit Lakes, Alexandria, Ortonville, Mankato, Albert Lea, Rochester, and the tribal nations of Upper Sioux, Fond du Lac, and Prairie Island. Fine particle levels are expected to reach the Orange AQI category, a level that is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, for far southwestern and northeastern Minnesota. This area includes Marshall, Duluth, Two Harbors, and the tribal nation of Grand Portage.

Health effects: 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.

In areas where air quality is in the Purple (Very Unhealthy) AQI category, sensitive individuals may experience significant aggravation of heart or lung disease and respiratory conditions. The general population may also experience a significant increase in respiratory effects.

In areas where air quality is in the Red (Unhealthy) AQI category, sensitive individuals may experience an increased aggravation of heart or lung disease and respiratory conditions. The general population may also experience increased respiratory effects.

In areas where air quality is in the Orange (Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups) AQI category, sensitive individuals may experience an aggravation of heart or lung disease and an increasing likelihood of respiratory conditions.

Take precautions: Everyone should take precautions when the air quality is unhealthy.

-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.
-Keep indoor air as clean as possible. Use indoor air filtration or air conditioning with the fresh-air intake closed/set on recirculate to reduce indoor air pollution.
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.

In areas where air quality is in the Purple (Very Unhealthy) AQI category, sensitive individuals should avoid any outdoor activity. Everyone else should avoid prolonged exertion.

In areas where air quality is in the Red (Unhealthy) AQI category, sensitive individuals should avoid prolonged exertion. Everyone else should limit prolonged exertion.

In areas where air quality is in the Orange (Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups) AQI category, sensitive individuals should limit prolonged exertion.

Briggs LeSavage

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