Health and Air Quality
Air pollution affects our health
Breathing pollution, like ground-level ozone and fine particles (also called PM2.5) can cause heart and lung problems such as heart attacks, asthma aggravations, airway irritations, and coughing. MN Tracking contributes to several efforts to understand the effects of air quality on our health - and to improve both.
Air Quality and Health Initiative
While all Minnesotans are susceptible to the health impacts of air pollution, these impacts are not equal. Differences in air pollution exposure, together with higher underlying rates of lung, heart, and other health conditions, can lead to disparate health outcomes for marginalized communities. The MN Tracking Program works with the MN Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to measure the impacts of air pollution on public health in the 7-county Twin Cities metro area and Greater Minnesota cities.
Air quality in Minnesota is good; however, even low and moderate levels of air pollution can lead to serious illness and death.
- Air quality in MN is good overall compared to the national standards. However, the data show there are still observable health impacts.
- Between 2008 and 2015, fine particles (PM2.5) pollution improved by 30% and ozone pollution improved by nearly 10% throughout the metro area.
- Over time there have been reductions in air pollution, but health disparities still persist related to social determinants of health and environmental injustice
- Communities with more BIPOC residents, more people living in poverty, with a disability or without health insurance generally have highest hospitalization and death rates.
- Overall, Metro disparities are more pronounced compared to Greater MN cities.
- The largest equity gaps in Greater MN cities are seen for communities with the highest un-insurance and disability rates. These are priority health equity areas in which to focus resources working with partners to decrease equity gaps.
Exploring data on air quality and health
View interactive maps and charts with data on a number of air quality and health topics on the MN Data Access portal, including:
- Air quality
- Asthma | Interactive map
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease | Interactive map
- Traffic | Interactive map
Get updated information Minnesota’s current air quality and a detailed forecast on the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency website and sign up for air quality alerts. Or download the MN Air mobile app.
Evaluating the health impacts of air pollutants
Evaluating the public health impacts of air pollutants informs policy makers and communities that reducing exposures and to chemicals in the air, such as fine particles and ozone are important step along with structural changes that promote health in all policies. Minnesota Tracking is employing methods for tracking the impact of air quality changes over time in Minnesota on respiratory and cardiovascular diseases and any differences among communities.
Health and climate information
The Minnesota Department of Health Climate and Health Program created a series of videos on climate change and health. Among them is a video titled Health, Air Quality and Climate Change.