The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has issued a health advisory for the Twin Cities and Rochester areas as ozone pollution nears levels considered unhealthy for sensitive groups.
The advisory became effective on Sunday and will last through Monday as mostly-sunny skies, temperatures in the low 90s and light winds from the south continue to enhance ozone formation.
On Sunday, the Air Quality Index was expected to reach 97 in both the Twin Cities and Rochester, with concentrations expected to peak between 1 p.m. and 9 p.m. and fall overnight. Officials expect the ozone concentration will rise to 93 on Monday afternoon.
Elevated levels of ozone are linked with respiratory and cardiovascular health effects, and exposure to high levels can aggravate existing health conditions. Health officials warn that even people who are otherwise healthy can experience symptoms.
On days when ozone concentrations are high, it may be more difficult to breathe deeply and vigorously. People may also experience shortness of breath and discomfort while breathing that could result in coughing and a sore, scratchy throat.
MPCA officials urge anyone experiencing those symptoms to contact a physician.
Anyone with a preexisting respiratory or cardiovascular condition is considered to be at-risk. Other at-risk groups include:
- The elderly
- Anyone participating in rigorous outdoor activity
- Those who exert themselves outdoors for an extended period of time
Individuals in these groups are urged to reschedule outdoor activities for the morning hours, when ozone concentrations are lower.
OZONE REDUCTION TIPS
According to MPCA, ozone is produced by a chemical reaction between volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides on hot, sunny days. The pollutants are also released by:
- Motor vehicles
- Lawn and garden equipment
- Paints and solvents
- Refueling stations
- Fuel combustion
By conserving energy, using mass transit or other alternatives to personal vehicles and by buying clean, renewable power, residents can reduce their contribution to air pollution.
When an air quality advisory is in effect, residents are especially encouraged to either postpone vehicle trips or carpool to reduce engine idling and refueling needs. Burning wood, using gas-powered tools and working with paints or solvents is also discouraged on advisory days.
- Current Air Quality Conditions: http://www.pca.state.mn.us
- Sign up for air quality alerts: http://mn.enviroflash.info
- Download free Minnesota Air: app: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.sti.MNAir