The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has issued an air quality alert for western Minnesota, effective Thursday, August 9 as of 2 p.m. through 10 a.m. Saturday, August 11. The affected area includes the cities of Worthington, Marshall, Ortonville, Alexandria, Moorhead, East Grand Forks, Roseau and Bemidji and the tribal nations of Red Lake, Leech Lake and Upper Sioux.

Smoke from wildfires in western Canada continues to impact far western Minnesota.

Periods of smoke are expected to continue into at least Saturday morning as a high-pressure system arrives. During this time, air quality will periodically decline to levels unhealthy for sensitive groups. Statewide improvements in air quality are expected on Sunday as winds switch to the south, carrying the smoke back into Canada.

• 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

 Air pollution can aggravate heart and cardiovascular disease as well as lung diseases like asthma and COPD. When the air quality is unhealthy, people with these conditions may experience symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, or fatigue. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, use your inhalers as directed and contact your health care provider. Everyone should take precautions when the air quality is unhealthy.

• Take it easy and listen to your body.

• Limit, change, or postpone your physical activity level.

• If possible, stay away from local sources of air pollution like busy roads and wood fires.

• If you have asthma or other breathing conditions like COPD make sure you have your relief/rescue inhaler with you.

People with asthma should review and follow guidance in their written asthma action plan. Make an appointment to see your health provider if you don’t have an asthma action plan.

The main sources of fine particle pollution is any activity that uses fuel. Conserving energy and buying clean, renewable energy are great lifestyle choices to help reduce overall pollution.

• Reduce vehicle trips.

• Encourage use of public transport, or carpool, when possible.

• Postpone use of gasoline powered lawn and garden equipment on air alert days. Use battery or manual equipment instead.

• Avoid backyard fires.

For information visit the MPCA Web site at www.pca.state.mn.us.