Created: August 02, 2021 07:42 AM
All of Minnesota remains under an air quality alert Monday morning as wildfires continue burning in Canada.
The smoke that's settling over the state could affect breathing.
The state saw a break from the smoke Sunday afternoon, but it moved back in overnight.
The conditions are especially hard on people with respiratory issues.
"These levels of particulates can be very irritating to the respiratory system and they can also have an impact for people with heart disease as well," Jessie Shmool, epidemiologist supervisor with the Minnesota Department of Health, said. "So symptoms like palpitations of the heart, shortness of breath or unusual fatigue (are possible.)"
Currently, the state is considered to be in the "orange risk zone," meaning the air quality is unhealthy for sensitive groups.
However, when the smoke first came in, the state was in the "purple risk zone," which is considered unprecedented for the state of Minnesota.
Air quality experts said at that point, poor air quality is affecting everyone, not just sensitive groups.
Minnesotans may have noticed itchy eyes and scratchy throats or an irritation in the chest. That's all from smoke and scientists say it might be something to get used to seeing each summer.
"We have seen an increase, especially in the last five or six years of wildfires," Daniel Dixon, air quality forecaster, said. "We are seeing warmer conditions, dryer conditions so yeah, we expect this will continue. Will it be this intense every year? That's hard to say because there are some years like last year that weren't as intense because the wildfires were more concentrated out west versus in Canada."
Currently, the air quality alert is still scheduled through Tuesday but forecasters will re-evaluate conditions Monday and determine if the alert needs to continue.
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