Smoke drifting in from Canadian wildfires prompted an air quality alert Friday from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
The MPCA issued an air quality alert until noon Sunday for all of Minnesota but the southwestern portion. The affected area includes the Twin Cities along with Alexandria, Brainerd, Bemidji, Duluth, Mankato, Rochester and Albert Lea.
The tribal nations of Mille Lacs, Fond du Lac, Grand Portage, Leech Lake and Red Lake also are covered.
With northerly winds pushing the plume of smoke south and east, the agency said the Twin Cities is experiencing smoky conditions and poor air quality.
Weather observations show visibility dropping to 2 to 5 miles in affected areas, the MPCA said. Air pollution monitors showed a rapid increase in fine particles.
Air pollution can aggravate heart and cardiovascular disease as well as lung diseases such as asthma and COPD.
People with these conditions may experience symptoms including chest pain, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing or fatigue, the agency warned.
The unhealthy air may also affect children and older adults and people engaged in extended or heavy outdoor physical activity, the MPCA said.
The alert encouraged people to carpool or take public transportation when possible, refrain from using gasoline-powered lawn and garden equipment and avoid backyard fires.