The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has upgraded the severity and geographic range of the air pollution health advisory issued yesterday. The agency has now placed the eastern two-thirds of Minnesota under an air pollution health alert. In this portion of the state, air quality conditions are considered unhealthy for sensitive groups.

Strong temperature inversions, snow melt, and morning fog are trapping fine particle pollution near the surface across much of the state today. Air quality conditions are expected to improve as a slow-moving frontal system passes over Minnesota. Conditions will first improve in the west and are expected to improve in the easternmost parts of the state by this evening. Updated information on air quality conditions across the state is available on the MPCA’s Air Quality Index website at www.pca.state.mn.us/aqi.

The MPCA issues an air pollution health alert when air quality conditions reach levels that are unhealthy for sensitive groups

At-risk populations: Fine-particle pollution is expected to reach a level considered unhealthy for sensitive groups. Populations sensitive to fine particles include those with pre-existing cardiovascular or respiratory disease, the elderly, children, and individuals who participate in activities requiring extended or heavy exertion, both indoors and outdoors. Members of these groups are encouraged to postpone or reduce vigorous activity and minimize exposure to local sources of air pollution (i.e.,heavy-duty vehicle traffic, wood fires and candles). Even individuals who are otherwise healthy may experience health effects when pollution levels increase.

Warmer weather is headed to Minnesota and the Rochester area could experience its first 40 degree day since November 30th on Sunday.