MINNESOTA — An air quality alert has been issued for northern and central Minnesota lasting from Tuesday, Aug. 8, through Wednesday, Aug 9.

Impacted areas include Brainerd, Alexandria, Hinckley, Ortonville, Bemidji, East Grand Forks, Moorhead, International Falls, Two Harbors, Hibbing, Ely, Duluth, Roseau, and the tribal nations of Mille Lacs, Leech Lake, Red Lake, Grand Portage, and Fond du Lac, according to a Minnesota Department of Public Health press release.

Although the alert was only issued for Minnesota, the National Weather Service in Grand Forks reported that the air quality in Grand Forks is also at a similar level on the Air Quality Index (AQI) to the impacted areas listed by the Minnesota Department of Public Health.

This alert was issued by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) due to the air quality dipping into the “orange range” on the AQI, which means the conditions are “unhealthy to sensitive groups.”

Individuals with asthma or other breathing conditions, high blood pressure, cardiovascular issues, and diabetes as well as pregnant people and children are advised by the Minnesota Department of Public Health to reduce outdoor activities and physically demanding activities while also taking frequent breaks. They also encourage those with asthma to “follow their asthma action plan and keep their rescue inhaler nearby.”

The Minnesota Department of Public Health also recommends those with high exposure risk such as those who do intensive physical activities or labor outside and those without protective shelter take caution while the air quality remains poor.

People, especially those in sensitive groups or those with high exposure, should monitor themselves for symptoms caused by the poor air quality like shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, wheezing and coughing If experiencing these symptoms the Department of Public Health recommends calling a health provider, if the symptoms are severe they advise calling 911.

According to the press release put out by the Minnesota Department of Public Health and the Grand Forks Weather Service, the dip in air quality is being caused by smoke from the northern Canadian wildfires being blown into the states.

“We went from a southwest flow to a northern flow,” said Mathew McLaughlin, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service. “So that brings the smoke down from Canada to our area.”

However, in order for the smoke to impact the air quality, McLaughlin said, it would have to be brought down to the surface.

“There has to be some sort of convection or some sort of process that forces the smoke down from high above to the surface,” McLaughlin said. “In that case, that mechanism is a cold front so that cold front is essentially pushing all of this smoke to the surface, giving us an air quality alert.”

Maeve Hushman is from San Diego, California, and is a student at University of North Dakota. She is majoring in communications with a minor in sports business.

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