Aug 2, 2021 - News

Smoke-filled air sticks around in the Twin Cities

An air quality alert mapped across Minnesota.

Image courtesy of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

Metro residents are breathing easier this morning, but we aren't in the clear yet.

What's happening: Most of the state remains under an "unprecedented" air quality alert thanks to a thick plume of smoke from Canadian wildfires that blew our way and won't budge.

  • While the outlook improved Sunday, the Air Quality Index in Minneapolis and St. Paul is expected to hit "unhealthy for sensitive groups," such as the elderly, children and those with asthma or other breathing conditions, per the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

Why it matters: It's gross! No, seriously, the smoke-filled air that blanketed the Twin Cities in recent days is bad for residents' health and can cause shortness of breath, chest pain and other uncomfortable symptoms.

  • Area hospitals saw an increase in complaints of shortness of breath over the weekend, the Star Tribune reports, and several area pools closed as a precaution.

What you should do: MPCA recommends limiting outdoor physical activity and staying away from other sources of air pollution, such as wood fires and busy roads, when the index rises.

  • The National Weather Service's Twin Cities office posted a helpful chart with guidance for the general public, and those whose age or health make them more susceptible to side effects.

The bottom line: This air quality alert is expected to lift by Tuesday afternoon. But the drought and extreme heat will likely continue to fuel an already bad wildfire season, as Axios' Andrew Freedman reports.

  • That means more smoke could later cover the metro.

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