Air pollution health alert issued for Twin Cities, Rochester

Meghan Holden

An air pollution health alert was issued Tuesday for the Twin Cities area and Rochester.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency issued the alert after fine particle pollution reached unhealthy levels for sensitive groups overnight.

Fine particle levels were expected to remain high through the morning, and decrease throughout the day as winds speeds increased, the MPCA said in a news release.

Sam Brungardt, MPCA public information officer, said the snowstorm moving towards Chicago is holding back the winds that typically clean out the pollutants in our area.

Those most likely to be affected include people with preexisting cardiovascular or respiratory disease, the elderly, children and people who participate in "extended or heavy exertion" activities, both indoors and outdoors. Healthy people may also experience health effects when the pollution levels are high.

Brungardt said he advises sensitive groups and healthy people to avoid strenuous activity, which includes practices for athletes.

"It's probably not the best time for the team to be out on the turf,” Brungardt said.

The MPCA recommends that people in the Twin Cities and Rochester area do not burn any wood or candles, which could increase pollution levels, and burn minimal gasoline, Brungardt said.

The alert is expected to remain in effect until midnight.