Pollution agency deems Twin Cities’ air unsafe

The air-quality level reached 152 Tuesday in the Twin Cities – an unhealthy level for everyone.

by Lacey Crisp

Despite the unseasonably mild temperatures, the air quality in the Twin Cities is keeping some outdoor enthusiasts inside.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the air-quality level for the Twin Cities was 152; an unhealthy level for everyone, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

Introduced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Air Quality Index is a measurement of air pollutants and air quality throughout the country.

If the air quality level is 151-200, it is unhealthy for all.

Colleen Coyne, outreach manager for Minnesota Environmental Initiative’s Clean Air Minnesota program, said people should take air-quality alerts seriously.

“The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency encourages people to avoid strenuous outdoor exercise,” Coyne said. “It’s particularly a problem if you have asthma and you are jogging and breathing in the air.”

She said children, adults older than 50 and people with heart conditions should be particularly cautious.

Coyne said her program has been watching the air quality worsen in the Twin Cities and is working to improve conditions.

“This is the first time in a couple of decades that the air quality has been this bad,” Coyne said.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency expects the air to clear Friday when a low pressure zone pushes through the area.

Anne Dirkes, a University senior, said she did not notice a difference in the air.

“I just noticed that it was foggy,” Dirkes said.

She said she ran the Twin Cities Marathon last fall and runs almost every day. Dirkes ran approximately three miles Tuesday and said she does not pay attention to the pollution levels.

“If it is warm outside tomorrow, I will run outside again,” Dirkes said.

Jessica Pfeffer, a University architecture senior, said she does not exercise outdoors because of the temperature.

She said she pays more attention to the global pollution level than the Twin Cities level.

“I think the Twin Cities has a great park system to run in, and I haven’t found the air quality to be a problem,” Pfeffer said.