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Air quality alert issued in Minnesota due to "ground-level ozone": What does it mean?

Air quality alert issued due to "ground-level ozone": What does it mean?
Air quality alert issued due to "ground-level ozone": What does it mean? 02:19

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency issued an air quality alert for the southern half of the state Tuesday due to "ground-level ozone." Here's what that means.

Ozone is great for the upper atmosphere because it filters the sun's harmful ultraviolet rays, but it's not healthy for humans when it reaches the ground.

It's produced on hot, sunny days by a chemical reaction between "volatile organic compounds and oxides of nitrogen," the MPCA said. Low humidity also plays a factor.


According to MPCA, ground-level ozone will be highest in Minnesota during the afternoon hours, lowering the air quality level to the Orange AQI category. This level is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups.

"Unhealthy ozone levels can aggravate lung diseases like asthma, emphysema, and COPD. When the air quality is unhealthy, people with these conditions may experience symptoms like difficulty breathing deeply, shortness of breath, throat soreness, wheezing, coughing, or unusual fatigue. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, use your inhalers as directed and contact your health care provider." - MPCA

RELATED: Earth's ozone layer on track to recover within 40 years, U.N. experts say

The MPCA says everyone should take precautions when air quality is unhealthy, including limiting physical activity outside, staying away from local sources of air pollution, and keeping a relief/rescue inhaler with you if you have asthma or other breathing conditions like COPD.

To help reduce pollution, people can carpool, fill up their gas tank at dawn or dusk, and avoid backyard fires.

For a look at current air quality conditions, click here.

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