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Minnesotans encouraged to limit time outside due to poor air quality

(Courtesy of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency)

Raging firestorms in Canada means another weekend of poor air quality for Minnesotans.

The historic fires to the north are causing smoke to billow south, with Minnesota and Wisconsin both under air quality warnings until 3 p.m. Saturday. Air quality levels are expected to reach orange levels, which can be dangerous for sensitive people.

"Smoke from wildfires in Alberta and British Columbia will move south across Minnesota following a cold front on Friday. The sinking air associated with the cold front will push smoke elevated in the atmosphere down to the surface," the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency said in a statement. "This will result in poor air quality. Air quality will gradually improve on Saturday with gradual clearing across Minnesota from north to south. This alert may need to be locally extended depending on how fast the smoke dissipates."

Minnesotans are encouraged to limit time outside until the air quality improves.

The EPA states that, as climate change makes summers more severe, areas without green space could see temperatures rise significantly, leading to dangerous – even deadly – outcomes for residents.

Green spaces, such as parks and trees, provide crucial infrastructure to reduce temperatures, decrease air pollution, and improve residents’ health. Minneapolis was named as Trust for Public Land’s best city for parks and green spaces in 2016. But as income disparities widen, so too does the availability of green space, leaving impoverished neighborhoods with lower health standards and more costs to handle the brutal heat.

Green spaces also play a part in reducing air pollution, which contributes to up to 4,000 deaths annually. Those numbers are expected to rise as dust from droughts and smoke from wildfires worsen air quality.

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