The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has issued an air quality alert effective until 6 a.m. Friday, May 19 for the entire state of Minnesota.

A band of heavy, ground-level smoke from wildfires in northern Alberta and Saskatchewan is currently moving along a cold front in northwestern Minnesota. The smoke will continue to move south and east and eventually impact the entire state. The smoke should clear rapidly overnight into Friday morning.

Fine particle levels are expected to reach the red air quality index (AQI) category, a level considered unhealthy for everyone, for all but far eastern Minnesota. In the red area, including Moorhead, East Grand Forks, Roseau and the Red Lake tribal nation, everyone should avoid prolonged time outdoors.

Fine particle levels are expected to reach the orange AQI, considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, across across southeastern, northeastern and far east central Minnesota. In these areas, sensitive groups should avoid prolonged time outdoors.

In areas with a red AQI, the sky may look smoky, the air will look hazy and you won't be able to see long distances. You may smell smoke. Anyone may experience symptoms such as irritated eyes, nose and throat, coughing, chest tightness or shortness of breath. Sensitive or more exposed people may experience more serious health effects, including worsening of existing heart or lung disease and respirotory and cardiovascular conditions, possibly leading to asthma attack, heart attack or stroke. People are advised to reduce outdoor physical activities, take more breaks and avoid intense activities to reduce exposure. Sensitive and more exposed people should avoid prolonged or vigorous activities and consider shortening, rescheduling or moving outdoor events inside.

In areas with an orange AQI, she sky may look hazy and residents may smell smoke. For sensitive groups, pollution may aggravate heart and lung disease and cardiovascular and respiratory conditions, with symptoms including chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing and fatigue. Sensitive people are encouraged to reduce outdoor physical activities, take more breaks or do less intense activities to reduce their exposure. People with asthma should follow their asthma action plan and keep their rescue inhaler nearby.

Sensitive groups include people with asthma or breathing conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes, pregnant women, children and older adults. People with increased exposure include those who do longer or more vigorous physical activity outdoors, who don't have air conditioning and need to keep windows open to stay cool, and people in housing not tight enough to keep unhealthy air out, or who do not have permanent shelter.

Anyone experiencing health effects related to poor air quality should contact their health care provider. If you experience severe symptoms, chest pain, trouble breathing, or fear you may be having a heart attack or stroke, call 911 immediately.

For more information about AQI categories, visit

. Visit the MPCA's

air quality index webpage

for information on current air quality conditions in your area. Learn more about air quality and health


. Learn about actions you can take to protect your health against wildfire smoke


. Learn what you can do about air pollution



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