Hennepin County Explains December Air Quality Alert
The metro area was under an air quality alert until 6 p.m. Thursday. Light winds, cloudy skies and stagnant air have caused conditions not to change. That, in turn, has caused pollutants to accumulate.
Air quality alerts aren’t common in December but can happen when conditions remain stagnant.
“Basically an inversion is when the atmosphere is kind of flipped,” explains Emily Harrington, a meteorologist for Hennepin County. “Usually you have cooling temperatures with height in the atmosphere but right now it’s actually colder at the surface. Up a couple thousand feet it’s a little warmer so that’s causing the air to be kind of stagnant and still in the lower layers of the atmosphere. That’s why we aren’t seeing as much dispersion in the air, so it’s not mixing very well. That then causes the pollutants in the atmosphere to stay really close to the surface. That can causes a lot of health problems for people who have sensitivities to that sort of things.”
Young children, older adults and individuals with respiratory issues are the most affected by the air quality. Experts say you should limit your time outside if you are considered vulnerable to the conditions. Also, if you live near a factory that creates a lot of pollution that area is likely to have worse air quality then other areas. If you are sensitive to air pollutants it’s recommended you stay away from those areas. For current air quality conditions click here.