Statewide air quality alert in effect due to wildfire smoke

An air quality alert is in effect for all of Minnesota, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) announced Thursday morning.

The alert is expected to be in place until at least 6 a.m. Friday due to wildfire smoke coming from northern Alberta and Saskatchewan.

The MPCA said the smoke will continue moving south and east, eventually impacting the entire state. The smoke is expected to “clear rapidly overnight into Friday morning.”

The air quality alert means that harmful pollutants from the smoke are mixing with the air and spreading across the state.

An updated map shared by the MPCA is color-coded to convey the severity of each region and potential health impacts.

More information on the air quality alert can be found on the MPCA’s website.

The people most at risk include:

  • People who have asthma or other breathing conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD),
  • People who have heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes,
  • Pregnant people,
  • Children and older adults.

Groups that are expected to have more exposure to poor air quality include:

  • Anyone who does longer or more vigorous physical activity outdoors,
  • People who work outdoors, especially workers who do heavy manual labor,
  • Those who exercise or play sports outdoors, including children,
  • People who don’t have air conditioning and need to keep windows open to stay cool,
  • People in housing not tight enough to keep unhealthy air out, or who do not have permanent shelter.

Minnesotans are advised to be aware of any severe symptoms, such as chest pain or trouble breathing. Anyone who fears they may be having a heart attack or stroke is asked to call 911.

The MPCA held a news conference Thursday morning to discuss the details of the alert.