Minnesota’s first air quality warning for 2024 has been issued. Here’s the damage wildfire smoke can do.

MINNEAPOLIS – A blurred city skyline and a quiet sidewalk tell part of the story in northern Canada, where Dozens of forest fires are raging.

Wandering wildfire smoke kept the Twin Cities metropolitan area and southern Minnesota in suspense a red air quality warning throughout Monday. The deadline ends at 11:00 p.m. A red alert means the air quality index is considered unhealthy for everyone.

“I noticed it last night,” Denise Amundson said. “I live right there, so I was like on my balcony and I was like, ‘Someone’s smoking! We don’t have a smoker on this pile.’ Then I realized it’s like forest fires.


Last summer is hard to forget. Minnesota had 22 air quality warnings in 52 days, a record year.

“Last year was historically bad. It was record-breaking, absolutely horribly bad,” said Quin Barber, fire scientist with the Canadian Forest Service. “So to say it’s better than last year doesn’t mean much. We could have a pretty smoky year. We could have a lot of fire.”

Barber says it’s too early to tell, but it’s unlikely we’ll get as many bad words as we did last year. Rain and wind changes can drastically affect the outlook. But smoky summers could remain.

“The days of long summers with hot temperatures and no smoke may no longer be commonplace,” Barber said. “But take advantage of the clear skies when we have them.”

How wildfire smoke can affect your body

What is in this forest fire smoke and what effects does it have on our bodies?

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency says burning vegetation releases all volatile organic compounds, which are very harmful to ingest. These include wood tar, gases and soot, carbon monoxide and particulate matter.

Short-term inhalation of wildfire smoke could worsen lung disease, asthma and acute bronchitis and increase the risk of respiratory infections.

Over time, this could lead to COPD, lung cancer and cardiovascular disease. High concentrations can cause permanent damage to lung tissue.

Make sure to close your windows and minimize your time outside if your area is under a red air quality warning.