The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has issued an air pollution health advisory for the Rochester area starting today and the Twin Cities starting tomorrow.
The MPCA issues an air pollution advisory when the amount of fine pollution particles in the air approaches a level that is considered unhealthy for certain groups.
Those groups include people with respiratory or cardiovascular problems, young children, the elderly, and people who participate in activities that require heavy exertion.
The MPCA cautions that even individuals who are otherwise healthy may experience health problems when air pollution increases.
Officials have urged residents to reduce or postpone activities that lead to deep or accelerated breathing, as fine pollution particles can be inhaled deeply into the lungs. Exposure to high levels of fine particles may cause chest pain, shortness of breath, coughing and fatigue, even after air quality has improved.
The advisory means that officials expect the Air Quality Index will exceed 90. The MPCA releases a more severe air pollution alert when the index exceeds 101.
Officials say that warm air higher in the atmosphere has trapped pollutants closer to the ground. In addition, light-to-calm winds have prevented the pollution from being dispersed throughout the atmosphere.
As winds remain calm and move south tomorrow, more pollutants will be transported into the region and will continue to build to potentially unhealthy levels in Rochester and the Twin Cities.
The MPCA says both advisories will end on Sunday, as a weak low-pressure system moves into southern Minnesota, dispersing pollutants.
Officials have urged residents to help reduce air pollution by carpooling, using public transportation, and avoiding car idling.
During poor air-quality times, the MPCA also recommends that people postpone burning wood and reduce their energy consumption.
Hourly air quality updates are available at the MPCA's Air Quality Index Web site.