Minnesotans prepare for worst Air Quality Index this year

(ABC 6 News) – With rain and storms remaining few and far between this spring, air quality index has been the talk of the weather this season.

Rochester has already had nine days of unhealthy air quality this year before the first day of summer officially hits and that number will keep going up as the summer solstice begins on Wednesday.

“We’ve seen a lot of Ozone in the Chicago area,” said Nick Witcraft of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. “Winds around the high pressure have taken that ozone from the Chicago area and they’re basically transporting up into Minnesota. We expect the Ozone to be as high as it could be in Minnesota.”

Wednesday’s alert will not be from the cause of wildfire smoke being blown into the state from neighboring Canada. Instead, it’s a whole mix of weather conditions accumulating in the area.

The lack of rain, high temperatures, sunshine, and low humidity have created an air environment that will produce ground-level Ozone. This will make breathing quality difficult for even the healthiest people while they’re outdoors.

Ahmed Mohammad and his friends are disc golfers and consider themselves fairly healthy. They get out to multiple courses in Rochester each day they can, and plan to keep at it on Wednesday until they start to feel the effects of a bad AQI.

“We’ll be out here anyway,” said Mohammad “We’re out here like when it’s a hundred degrees out and we’ll be wearing jeans, so it’s no real bother to us.”

The bad AQI will not only be a problem for disc golfers and others partaking in outdoor activities, but for anyone who plans to keep their windows open, weather for the lack of air conditioning or enjoyment of a cool breeze.

“If you have your windows open that poor air quality will make it indoors,” said Witcraft. “With particulate [air] you can use an N95 mask but with ozone these are little molecules and these will go right through the mask. and there’s really not much you can do besides getting into an environment that does have air conditioning.”

As for Mohammad and his friends, all they’ll need is something cool to drink until the air gets to them.

“Maybe an [extra] beer or water. That’s it.”