This has been an unusual summer in an unusual world. Wild fires, pandemic. drought and excess heat dominate the conversation and the media. Many now check the morning air quality just like they check the weather. A local weather expert says there is no normal anymore. In Minnesota and Wisconsin we are used to fresh Canadian air, but more and more we are getting dirty wildfire smoke!
Many of us have no idea how we should change our behavior when the air quality is poor. Lawn mowers, leaf blowers, fire pits, and car trips continue to pollute the already dirty air. Hennepin County has some suggestions below.
Dirty air can make cases of Covid-19 and other respiratory diseases much worse. Be careful, and wear a mask!
I am a firm believer in community health and working together for healthy communities. We can all take more personal responsibility for clean air and clean water. Many minority communities deal with polluted air on a daily basis, and have lived with bad air for many years. Wildfires don’t discriminate like chemical plants, hazard waste dumps, and garbage burners. We all experience the smoky air, and see what breathing is like in other polluted places. Clean air is necessary for everyone, do your part!
Our actions count, make them positive!
The largest county(Hennepin) in Minnesota posted ideas to manage bad air days.. I think it is worthwhile.
Below is from Hennepin County:
Stay healthy during air quality alerts
In July, the Twin Cities area experienced air quality alerts due to an increase in fine particles from Canadian wildfire smoke. This made the air unhealthy for sensitive groups, which includes those with asthma, heart or lung disease, older adults, children, and people doing extended physical activity outside.
Everyone should take precautions when the air quality is unhealthy:
Take it easy, listen to your body, and limit, change, or postpone your physical activity. Stay away from local sources of air pollution, like busy roads and wood fires, if possible. If you have asthma, follow your asthma action plan and keep quick relief medicine handy.
There are also steps people can take to reduce pollution to avoid contributing more to unhealthy air quality. These include:
Reduce driving by combining trips, avoiding unnecessary idling, carpooling, and walking, biking, or taking public transit. Postpone backyard fires. Postpone the use of gasoline powered lawn and garden equipment. If possible, invest in electric lawn equipment. Learn more about air quality and how to stay healthy during poor air quality days on the Hennepin County Climate Action website.
We love our freedoms. We ride ATVs, run leaf blowers and lawn mowers, spray chemicals and have fires in our yards, totally unaware of how are actions could be affecting other people. A new study by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency(MPCA), puts the responsiblity for air pollution on the general public. Their study says air pollution in the Twin Cities area (Minneapolis, St. Paul and suburbs 2.8 million) causes 2,000 deaths a year.
The Minnesota Pollution Control report gives specific ways to improve air quality:
Drive the most fuel-efficient vehicle you can afford.
Take public transportation, walk, or bike whenever possible.
Limit wood-burning activities like backyard bonfires.
Look for alternatives to fossil-fuel-burning small engines such as electric lawnmowers and weed trimmers rather than those that use gas.