New look at air pollution details effect on Minnesota

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CHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – We know air pollution is bad for our health. And now, following an in-depth report, we have a better idea of how air pollution in Minnesota is impacting people across the state.

The good news is that the air quality in Minnesota is good and meets the federal standards. But the report found that air pollution plays a role in deaths and hospitalizations around the state, as it worsened pre-existing heart and lung conditions.

The latest air pollution report is an extension of the 2015 analysis which focused specifically on the Twin Cities.

“The quality of air and the impacts of air quality on public health is an issue across our state not just in the metropolitan area,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm.

Chester Woods Park, Olmsted County

Using the most current outdoor air quality data, which is from 2013, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Minnesota Department of Health scientists found between five and ten percent of deaths, and between one and five percent of hospitalizations for heart or lung problems were partly due to fine particles or ground-level ozone.

“What that translates to is approximately 2,000 to 4,000 premature deaths, 500 hospitalizations, and 800 emergency room visits being attributable, at least in part to the impact of air quality on health,” said Malcolm.

Air pollution doesn’t effect all Minnesotans equally. The elderly, people with pre-existing heart or lung conditions, or children with uncontrolled asthma are among those most impacted.

“There are days that people with asthma have to understand that the air quality is going to effect them and help them make a decision about whether they even want to go outside,” said Rochester Mayor and Citizen Scientist Kim Norton. “Do they need to stay indoors, do they need to stay in a controlled area?”

Higher levels of ozone pollution are found in southern part of the state, while the highest fine particle levels are found in the metro and parts of southeast Minnesota.

“We do have more work to do,” said Malcolm. “This report can serve as a useful baseline. We can hopefully keep it updated as we go forward.”

To read the full report, click here.

If you’re looking to get up-to-date air quality conditions or daily forecasts, you can download the app “Minnesota Air”.

Sarah Gannon

Sarah Gannon

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