Air Quality Alert In St. Cloud- What Does It Mean?
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has issued an Air Quality Alert beginning Tuesday morning and lasting through Thursday night. Unlike the situation last week, this alert has nothing to do with the smoke from wildfires and is instead due to ozone pollution.
Ground-level ozone is expected to be high during the afternoon hours on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday across central and southern Minnesota. Sunny skies, warm temperatures, and low humidity will create an environment favorable for two types of pollutants (Volatile Organic Compounds and Nitrogen Oxides) to react in the air to produce ground-level ozone. These pollutants will be transported by southerly winds from the Chicago area, northeast Iowa, and southeast Minnesota. Ozone will be highest during the afternoon and early evening hours when sunshine is most abundant, and temperatures are highest. Ozone will be low in the morning, late evening, and overnight.
The ozone levels will push the air quality index to the orange level, which is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups including those with lung disease, asthma, small children and older adults.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency recommends 'reducing or eliminating activities that contribute to air pollution,' such as outdoor burning and indoor fire places. They also recommend reducing vehicle trips wherever possible.
The alert area includes the Twin Cities, Alexandria, Albert Lea, St. Cloud, Mankato, and the tribal nations of Mille Lacs, Upper Sioux, and Prairie Island. In the orange area, sensitive groups should limit prolonged outdoor exertion.