The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has issued an air pollution health advisory for the metro area effective through 12 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 18. Fine particle pollution has increased across the Metro today due to stagnant conditions. Wind speeds are not expected to increase until late Tuesday night, so advisory conditions are expected to continue until then. This means AQI values will remain in the high yellow (moderate) category through Tuesday.
An air pollution health advisory is issued when the air quality index approaches but is expected to remain below 101, a level considered unhealthy for sensitive groups. The MPCA issues an air pollution health alert when air quality is expected to reach and remain above 101.
Fine particle pollution is expected to near a level considered unhealthy for sensitive groups. Those sensitive to ozone include people with preexisting respiratory or cardiovascular conditions, the elderly, children, and individuals who participate in outdoor activities requiring extended or heavy exertion. Be prepared to postpone or reduce vigorous activity. Ozone and fine particles can be drawn deeply into the lungs, so reduce activities that lead to deep or accelerated breathing. Even people who are otherwise healthy may feel health effects when air pollutant levels increase.
Elevated levels of ozone have been linked to respiratory and cardiovascular health effects. Exposure to high levels of ozone may exacerbate pre-existing health conditions. High ozone levels may make it more difficult to breathe deeply and vigorously, cause shortness of breath and breathing discomfort, and result in coughing and a sore or scratchy throat. If you experience these symptoms, contact your physician.
How you can help reduce air pollution
Ozone is produced on hot, sunny days by a chemical reaction between volatile organic compounds and oxides of nitrogen. These pollutants are released from motor vehicles, lawn and garden equipment, paints and solvents, refueling stations, and other activities that require fuel combustion. To lower levels of air pollution, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency urges residents to use alternate modes of transportation whenever possible such as a bus, train, car pools, biking and walking. They also request residents postpone the use of gasoline-powered equipment and avoid burning wood.
Measures that will help reduce emissions:
- Limit driving – share a ride or take public transportation to work and postpone errands until the next day.
- Don’t idle your vehicle for more than three minutes.*
- Refuel your vehicle after 6 p.m.
- Postpone using other gasoline-powered engines, like garden and recreational equipment.
- Postpone indoor and outdoor recreational fires.
- To reduce the demand on power plants, conserve energy and turn off as many electric items as possible.
- If you fall in the sensitive group category, arrange to work indoors for the day.
The Air Quality Index is updated hourly (during the day) by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. You can sign up for alerts at http://mn.enviroflash.info.
*The City of Minneapolis has limits on vehicle idling that aim to reduce air pollution in Minneapolis. The ordinance limits most vehicle idling to three minutes, except in traffic. Reducing vehicle idling in Minneapolis translates into less air pollution, protecting the public health and the environment and saving money in fuel. Vehicle motors release particulate matter, dirt, nitrous oxides, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide into the air.