An air quality alert has been issued for the southern half of Minnesota.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency issued the alert for areas including Mankato, Marshall, Rochester, St. Cloud and the Twin Cities effective Friday from noon to 8 p.m.
The air quality index is expected to move into the unhealthy for sensitive groups category Friday due to a combination of wildfire smoke particles, unseasonably warm temperatures, mostly sunny skies and high ozone levels.
Scientific studies have shown that exposure to poor air quality can lead to a sore throat, persistent cough, burning eyes, wheezing, shortness of breath or chest pain. Elevated pollution levels can also trigger asthma attacks, hospital admissions and emergency room visits, heart attacks, and premature death.