How Minneapolis Expanded Its Air Quality Network

Air Quality in Minneapolis

The fact is air pollution in Minnesota has been a sincere concern for decades. But lately, it’s gotten much worse with the winter weather. According to one report, air pollution contributes to up to 6,400 deaths a year.

So, what can Minnesota do to reduce the number of deaths?

And by extension, how can we make air quality a bigger priority in the community?

One answer is to build a network of air quality monitors that measures air pollutants like particulate matter in real time. This week, we’re highlighting how the government in Minneapolis is doing just that—so you can learn how to implement your own.

4 Causes of Minnesota’s Air Quality

Historically, air pollution levels have dropped almost 50% in Minnesota since 1997. However, there is still plenty of work to be done in local communities.

Just this year, the air quality in Minneapolis reached the worst it had ever been since 2005. The thick fog and haze descended on the city in January, causing various health problems for local residents—especially those who are more vulnerable to poor air quality. Thousands of residents were advised to remain inside to reduce their exposure to elevated levels of air pollution.

But what caused this serious smog?

Throughout the year, several factors impact Minnesota’s air quality:

  • Temperature Inversions: The lack of stormy weather means a lack of strong winds. Because of that lack of air movement, harmful pollutants are easily trapped closer to the surface.
  • Wildfire Smoke: During the summer, wildfire smoke easily travels across the state, affecting everyone in cities and rural areas alike.
  • Industrial Activity: There are over 8,250 companies in Minnesota involved in manufacturing. These industrial plants are especially harmful in residential areas.
  • Transportation: Finally, excess vehicular pollution from all kinds of transportation impacts air quality as well.

How Minneapolis is Creating an Air Quality Network

Since the introduction of the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act (MCIAA) in 2007, the state has implemented various air quality policies and initiatives to curb indoor air pollution. However, it’s just a small factor in a complex equation.

And more work needs to be done to address outdoor air pollution.

Many residents have noticed the smell from nearby factories seeping into their neighborhoods. But without air quality monitors, they couldn’t accurately see the levels of air pollution. As such, the city decided it was time to take further action—and make air quality a much bigger priority.

Recently, residents and city officials started installing over 70 air quality monitors all over Minneapolis. Thanks to a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the city has been able to increase its air quality network drastically. And this doesn’t just benefit policymakers.

Now, everyone can access real-time, hyper-local air quality data through the PurpleAir Map. Plus, the air quality monitors update the air quality levels automatically every 2 minutes. Empowering residents and city officials to make better choices for the community.

We love hearing about projects like this because, at PurpleAir, we share that same mission.

If we’re going to help reduce air pollution—we first need to be able to see it. By building an air quality network like this, Minneapolis is taking the first step towards change, so the residents can live happier, longer lives.

Connect With PurpleAir

At PurpleAir, there are tons of organizations around the world using our data—from Google to the EPA. We’re thrilled to see technology and research projects like this one, and we look forward to seeing plenty more in the future.

Are you a technology company or institution looking to work with PurpleAir?

We’d love to connect and see how we can help you. Whether you’re interested in our air quality monitors or using our air quality data for your projects, feel free to reach out.