By Fritz Busch
ST. PAUL - The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) issued an air pollution health alert Thursday for western Minnesota from noon Thursday to noon Friday.
Air quality monitors indicated that fine particle pollution was increasing across central plains states, extending from Fargo to Oklahoma City, including Marshall, Fargo, and Sioux Falls.
Fine particle concentrations in western Minnesota were considered unhealthy for the elderly, children, people with cardiovascular disease, and people engaged in strenuous indoor and outdoor activity, according to the MPCA.
A strong temperature inversion, snow melt, and morning fog trapped fine particle pollution near the ground, causing fine-particle concentrations to reach a level considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, according to the MPCA.
The conditions are forecast to remain until Friday afternoon when a cold front passes over Minnesota, blowing cleaner air into the region.
The MPCA issues air pollution health alerts when air quality conditions reach levels that are unhealthy for sensitive groups or an Air Quality Index (AQI) greater than 101.
Individuals sensitive to this situation are encouraged to postpone or reduce vigorous activity and minimize exposure to local air pollution sources (heavy duty vehicle traffic, wood fires and candles). Even people who are otherwise healthy may experience health effects when pollution levels increase, according to the MPCA.