The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has issued an air pollution health advisory for portions of eastern, southern and southeastern Minnesota, effective Sunday, June 19 from 11a.m. through 9 p.m. The affected area includes the Twin Cities Metro, Albert Lea, Forest Lake, Mankato, Owatonna, Red Wing, Rochester, Winona and Worthington.
Forecasted temperatures in the low 90s, sunny skies, increased levels of ozone moving in from the central U.S. and even some smoke from southwestern U.S. fires, are expected to lead to the formation of ground level ozone on Sunday. As a result, the Air Quality Index (AQI) is forecasted to reach into the low 90s, which is just below air quality conditions considered unhealthy for sensitive groups. Ozone concentrations will be the lowest in the morning hours before increasing late Sunday morning through the afternoon. Concentrations will begin decreasing in the evening as the sun sets and a line of thunderstorms moves into the area.
At-risk Populations: Ozone pollution is expected to be 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. These individuals are encouraged to postpone or reduce vigorous outdoor activity, or schedule outdoor activity in the morning, when ozone levels are lower. Even persons who are otherwise healthy may experience health effects when ozone levels increase.
Health Impacts: Elevated levels of ozone have been linked to respiratory and cardiovascular health effects. Exposure to high levels of ozone may exacerbate preexisting 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.
Pollution-reduction Tips: 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. Conserving energy; buying clean, renewable power; and utilizing alternative means of transportation, such as mass transit, will all reduce your contribution to air pollution. During air quality alerts, residents are particularly encouraged to use public transportation, car pool or reduce vehicle trips and engine idling. Postpone the use of gasoline-powered equipment and avoid burning wood.
Visit http://www.pca.state.mn.us for information on current air quality conditions in your area. To receive daily air quality forecasts and air quality alert notifications by email or text message sign up at http://mn.enviroflash.info. You can find additional information on indoor and outdoor air quality in Minnesota at www.beairawaremn.org.