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Smoke from Canadian fires prompts air quality alert in Minn.

August 17, 2018

Drifting smoke from Canadian wildfires has made the air in Minnesota unhealthy, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency said.

The MPCA has issued an air quality alert for the northern half of the state through noon Sunday. The affected area includes places such as Brainerd, Bemidji, Duluth, Ely and Moorhead along with the tribal nations of Mille Lacs, Fond du Lac, Grand Portage, Leech Lake and Red Lake.

With northerly winds pushing the plume of smoke south and east, the agency said the Twin Cities is expected to see smoky conditions and poor air quality by Friday evening. An air quality alert will likely be issued for this area Friday night through Sunday, the MPCA said.

Weather observations show visibility dropping to 2 to 5 miles in the affected areas, the MPCA said.

Air pollution can aggravate heart and cardiovascular disease as well as lung diseases like asthma and COPD. People with these conditions may experience symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, or fatigue, the alert warned.

The unhealthy air may also affect children and older adults and people engaged in extended or heavy outdoor physical activity, the MPCA said.

The alert encouraged people to carpool or take public transportation when possible, refrain from using gasoline-powered lawn and garden equipment and avoid backyard fires.

Tim Harlow 612-673-7768

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