Pollution alert doesn’t stop active students

The alert advised people in the Twin Cities against ‘heavy exertion’ because of high pollution levels Tuesday.

by Meghan Holden


Despite a health alert advising Twin Cities residents not to participate in rigorous activity Tuesday, the University Recreation Center stayed busy.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency issued an overnight alert for the Twin Cities and Rochester after fine particle pollution reached unhealthy levels for sensitive groups, like people with pre-existing conditions or participants in “extended or heavy exertion” activities, both indoors and outdoors.

MPCA spokesman Sam Brungardt advised everyone to avoid strenuous activity, which includes working out and practices for athletes, on Tuesday.

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

But that didn’t stop actuary science freshman Meagan Larkin from working out.

“I don’t think students really pay attention to that stuff,” Larkin said.

Ginia Klamecki, the wife of a University faculty member, refers to herself as elderly — one of the groups more likely to be affected, according to the alert. But she said knowing about the alert wouldn’t have stopped her from working out.

“This is what keeps me alive,” Klamecki said.

Healthy people can also experience health effects when the pollution levels are high. Brungardt said the small size of the pollutant particles makes it easier to get into lungs.

Dave Golden, Boynton Health Service spokesman, said he would consider putting this type of alert online next time it occurs because there are many students with asthma at the University.

Air quality was expected to improve throughout the day as wind speeds increased, the MPCA said in a news release.

Brungardt said the snowstorm moving toward Chicago is holding back the winds that typically clean out the pollutants in the Twin Cities area.

An alert like this is uncommon, he said.