Health experts warn poor air quality can even affect the healthy: details

Minneapolis skyline
Photo credit GettyImages

The wacky weather continues in Minnesota as poor air quality has joined both drought and high temperatures.

Health experts are warning Minnesotans with underlying heart and lung conditions to be cautious of the poor air quality throughout the state caused by Canadian wildfires, as they can be seriously affected.

Dr. David Ingbar, M Health Fairview pulmonologist and critical care physician and University of Minnesota Medical School professor of medicine, spoke with News Talk 830 WCCO's Mark Freie about the air quality in Minnesota and across the nation.

Listen to your favorite News/Talk station now on Audacy.

Ingbar spoke about the variety of different factors that will affect air quality and cause harm, including carbon dioxide, ground-level ozone, sulfur nitrogen dioxide, and particulates, which are typically seen with wildfires, that penetrate deep into the lung.

There are several groups of people that can be seriously harmed by the poor air quality, including those who suffer from asthma or COPD, the elderly, and even the very young, according to Ingbar.

Local meteorologist Sven Sundgaard spoke with News Talk 830 WCCO's Cory Hepola spoke about the air quality as well.

Sundgaard shared that air quality is measured through the level of junk in the lower level of the atmosphere. This year the air quality has been low since June when the fire season started relatively early.

The wildfires usually create the "pretty sunsets and smokey skies," Sundgaard said, but now, due to the amount of smoke coming in from the north and west, the air quality has been seriously affected.

The quality level should be between 10 to 30 but yesterday reached 160.

Particulates from the wildfires can cause heart attacks, respiratory difficulty, and several other side effects if people are not careful.

"There is a greater scale of impact, there's adequate air quality, there's air quality that's unhealthy for people in sensitive groups, and then there is air quality that is to be avoided for everybody," Ingbar said.

Yesterday different parts of the state saw worse air quality than others.

"In areas like the Brainerd area yesterday, it hit that unhealthy for everybody [level]," Ingbar said.

When the air quality drops, health experts recommend that residents stay inside and try not to do anything outside that requires serious physical exertion.

Even healthy people should refrain from going outside, as Sundgaard noted that it is more difficult to tell if they are pushing it or not.

"When it gets unhealthy [for everybody] or into those high levels, it's really not smart to be doing heavy-duty exercise or major exertion outside because you put yourself at risk," Ingbar said. "There's a lot of data that in the short term, you can increase heart attack rates and other problems even in people who think they are healthy otherwise."