Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Issues Air Pollution Health Advisory for Today St. Thomas Newsroom July 3, 2012 The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has issued an air pollution health advisory due to forecasted increases in ozone pollution for the Twin Cities metropolitan area effective from noon until midnight Tuesday, July 3.At-risk populations: Ozone is expected to near a level that is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups. Those sensitive to ozone include people with preexisting respiratory conditions, the elderly, children, and individuals who participate in outdoor activities requiring extended or heavy exertion. These individuals are encouraged to postpone or reduce vigorous outdoor activity, or schedule outdoor activity in the morning, when ozone levels are lower. Even those who are otherwise healthy may experience health effects when ozone levels increase.Health impacts: Elevated levels of ozone have been linked with respiratory health effects. Exposure to high levels of ozone may exacerbate preexisting health conditions. High ozone levels may make it more difficult to breathe deeply and vigorously, cause shortness of breath and breathing discomfort, and result in coughing and a sore or scratchy throat. If you experience these symptoms, contact your physician.Pollution-reduction tips: Ozone is produced on hot, sunny days by a chemical reaction between volatile organic compounds and oxides of nitrogen. These pollutants are released from motor vehicles, lawn and garden equipment, paints and solvents, refueling stations, and other activities that require fuel combustion. Conserving energy; buying clean, renewable power; and utilizing alternative means of transportation will all reduce your contribution to air pollution. During air quality advisories, residents are particularly encouraged to postpone or reduce vehicle trips; engine idling and refueling; the use of gasoline-powered equipment; working with paints and solvents; and burning wood.Current air quality conditions and forecast: On Monday, July 2, temperatures in the upper-90s, sunny skies, and moderate south-southeasterly winds carrying wildfire smoke promoted the creation of ozone in the Twin Cities. As a result, the Air Quality Index (AQI) was forecasted to reach 97 AQI in the Twin Cities, which is just below air quality conditions considered unhealthy for sensitive groups. Ozone concentrations were expected to decline Monday night but are expected to increase again to 97 AQI today, Tuesday, July 3.Over the next five days the AQI forecast is:Tuesday – 97Wednesday – 80Thursday – 87Friday – 77Saturday – 67The MPCA monitors pollution levels on an hourly basis and will notify the public if air quality conditions reach advisory or alert levels.For hourly air quality updates, visit the MPCA AQI website. Sign up here to receive daily air quality forecasts and air pollution health alerts by email or text message.