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Minnesota Air Quality Alert: Canada wildfire smoke harms air quality

Is the air quality good in Minnesota?

No, the air quality in Minnesota is currently unhealthy for everyone in parts of the state. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has issued an air quality alert for most of the state until 6 a.m. Friday, June 16, 2023. The air quality index has reached yellow, orange, and red ranges of air quality in some cities (1). Those air quality ranges are considered moderate, unhealthy for sensitive groups, and unhealthy for everyone, respectively.

Poor air quality in the Upper Midwest on Thursday, June 15, 2023. Source: IQAir AirVisual.

Poor air quality in the Upper Midwest on Thursday, June 15, 2023. Source: IQAir AirVisual.

Why is there an air quality alert in Minnesota?

Minnesota’s air quality alert was triggered by wildfire smoke from wildfires in northwestern Canada. The smoke is reaching the Upper Midwest through atmospheric flow patterns. As a result, the air quality levels have reached moderate to unhealthy levels.

Air quality has improved in the state since Wednesday, June 14, but could potentially degrade again depending on the concentration of smoke received from Canada throughout the day.

Where is all the smoke in Minnesota coming from?

Smoke in Minnesota is coming from wildfires in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, but the majority of smoke witnessed on Wednesday and Thursday came from northwestern Ontario, Canada. The smoke is being transported into the region through atmospheric conditions and is causing hazy conditions and poor air quality.

Why is the air smoky in Minnesota?

The air quality in Minnesota is poor due to the smoke from wildfires in Canada drifting into the region. The smoke contains fine particle pollution – PM2.5 – that can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat, and cause respiratory symptoms such as coughing, chest tightness, dizziness, and fatigue.

Which other areas are affected by the Canada wildfire smoke?

Canada’s wildfire smoke is affecting much of the Upper Midwest. Western Wisconsin, North Dakota, and South Dakota are also experiencing unhealthy air quality.

North Dakota has not issued an air quality alert, but the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality has advised residents in north central and eastern parts of the state to avoid prolonged outdoor activity (2).

How can I protect myself from wildfire smoke?

Always plan ahead to protect yourself from wildfire smoke.

 

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