Projects – Air and Health

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 like heart attacks, asthma symptoms, airway irritations and coughing. MN Tracking contributes to several efforts to understand the effects of air quality on our health in order to improve both.

Urban air quality and health initiative

Life and Breath Report (PDF)

thumbnail of Life and Breath report coverEveryone can be affected by breathing polluted air, but the impacts of air pollution fall disproportionately on the sick, elderly and children with uncontrolled asthma. The MN Tracking Program works with the MN Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to measure the impacts of air pollution on public health in the seven-county Metro area.

Report findings

  • Air quality in Minnesota is good, however, even low and moderate levels of air pollution can lead to serious illness and death.
  • There is little difference in average air pollution levels between ZIP codes in the Twin Cities.
    • ZIP codes with larger populations of people of color and American Indians, and residents living in poverty are more vulnerable to air pollution
    • Because these populations already have higher rates of heart and lung conditions, they experience more hospitalizations, asthma emergency department visits, and death related to air pollution.
    • Fine particles and ground-level ozone, two common air pollutants, contributed to about six to 13 percent of all deaths in the Twin Cities based on 2008 data.

For more information, see Life and Breath: How air pollution affects public health in the Twin Cities.

Exploring data on air quality and health

On the MN Public Health Data Access portal, you can view interactive maps and charts with data on a number of air quality and health topics, including:

Researching the health impacts of air pollutants

Researching the public health impacts of air pollutants provides important information to evaluate steps to reduce exposures and health effects for chemicals in the air, such as fine particles and ozone. MN Tracking is testing methods for tracking the impact of air quality changes over time in Minnesota on respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. This work will include an update of an earlier analysis, Measuring the Impact of Particulate Matter Reductions by Environmental Health Outcome Indicators, conducted by MDH, MPCA and Olmsted Medical Center.

For more information on health and air quality, contact MN Tracking.