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Air quality alert for northern Cass County

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has issued an air quality alert for northwestern and northcentral Minnesota, effective Wednesday, August 8 beginning at 2 p.m. through 10 a.m. Thursday, August 9. The affected area includes the cities of Roseau, International Falls, East Grand Forks, Bemidji and Moorhead and the tribal nations of Red Lake and Leech Lake.

Satellite and surface weather observations show an area of smoke moving into northwestern Minnesota. Visibility in southern Manitoba has decreased to four miles due to smoke, indicating an increase in fine particle concentrations. The smoke plume that originated in western Canada will travel southeastward, reaching International Falls during the afternoon and Red Lake to Bemidji Wednesday evening. Periods of smoke are expected to persist in this area overnight into Thursday morning. During this time, fine particle pollution is expected to remain at or above a level that is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups. Smoke is expected to decrease across the alert area late Thursday morning.

People whose health is affected by unhealthy air quality:  There are people who are more likely to be affected when fine particle pollution reaches an unhealthy level.

People who have asthma or other breathing conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
People who have heart disease or high blood pressure
Children and older adults
People of all ages who are doing extended or heavy, physical activity like playing sports or working outdoors
Health effects: Air pollution can aggravate heart and cardiovascular disease as well as lung diseases like asthma and COPD. When the air quality is unhealthy, people with these conditions may experience symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, or fatigue. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, use your inhalers as directed and contact your health care provider.

Take precautions: Everyone should take precautions when the air quality is unhealthy.

Take it easy and listen to your body.
Limit, change, or postpone your physical activity level.
If possible, stay away from local sources of air pollution like busy roads and wood fires.
If you have asthma or other breathing conditions like COPD make sure you have your relief/rescue inhaler with you.

People with asthma should review and follow guidance in their written asthma action plan. Make an appointment to see your health provider if you don’t have an asthma action plan.
Pollution reduction tips: The main sources of fine particle pollution is any activity that uses fuel. Conserving energy and buying clean, renewable energy are great lifestyle choices to help reduce overall pollution.

Reduce vehicle trips.
Encourage use of public transport, or carpool, when possible.
Postpone use of gasoline powered lawn and garden equipment on air alert days. Use battery or manual equipment instead.
Avoid backyard fires.

For information on current air quality conditions in your area and to sign up for daily air quality forecasts and alert notifications by email, text message, phone, or the Minnesota Air mobile app visit MPCA’s Air Quality Index webpage. You can find additional information about health and indoor and outdoor air quality at the agency's Air Quality and Health webpage.