“Keep windows closed tonight”: Wildfire smoke alarm issued for MN

TWIN CITIES, MN – Yes, the smoke from the Canadian wildfires is back. “Keep windows closed tonight,” the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency said Sunday.

As of 8 a.m. Monday, much of Minnesota — including the Twin Cities metro area — is under a “Red/Unhealthy for All” air quality warning.

Health officials warned that particulate matter levels are expected to reach the Red Air Quality Index (AQI) category, a level considered unhealthy for everyone.

“A very strong plume of smoke from wildfires in northeastern British Columbia has moved into northern Minnesota and will sweep south across the state on Sunday behind a cold front,” the PCA said.

“Smoke will continue in southern Minnesota until midday Monday and air quality will gradually improve throughout the day as the smoke begins to dissipate… Everyone should limit prolonged or strenuous exertion and the amount of time they spend outdoors,” added the PCA added.

For more information on the PCA’s warning, see below:

Red air quality: Unhealthy for everyone

Sights and smells: In areas where air quality is in the red AQI category due to wildfires, skies may appear smoky. The air looks hazy and you cannot see long distances. You may smell smoke.

Health effects: This air is unhealthy for everyone. Anyone may experience symptoms such as irritated eyes, nose and throat, cough, chest tightness or shortness of breath. Sensitive or more exposed people may experience more serious health effects, including worsening of existing heart or lung disease, as well as respiratory and cardiovascular disease, potentially leading to an asthma attack, heart attack or stroke.

What to do: Reduce outdoor physical activity, take more breaks, and avoid vigorous activity to reduce exposure. Sensitive and more exposed people should avoid prolonged or strenuous activities and consider shortening, postponing or moving outdoor events indoors.