ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is issuing an air quality alert for southwest, western and central Minnesota, effective Friday, September 1 beginning at 9 a.m. through 6 a.m. Saturday, September 2.

The affected area includes residents of Alexandria, Brainerd, Marshall, Ortonville, St. Cloud, and Worthington. Also impacted are the Tribal Nations of Mille Lacs and Upper Sioux.

Canadian wildfire smoke continues across much of southern, western and central Minnesota. Air pollution monitors are showing an increase in fine particles as thicker smoke moves north from northwest Iowa into the southwestern portion of Minnesota. Smoke will continue to persist and move northward as southerly winds develop across western Minnesota. During this time, fine particle pollution is expected to remain at, or above, a level that is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups. Showers and thunderstorms will approach western and northwestern Minnesota this evening helping to disperse smoke in some areas. Southwest and central Minnesota will continue with higher fine particle levels through the overnight hours until precipitation arrives. By Saturday morning, most areas of smoke will be pushed south and dissipated.

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.

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