Air quality across Central Minnesota can reach levels that are unhealthy for sensitive groups today.

Air quality is measured with the Air Quality Index or AQI. The AQI works sort of like a thermometer that runs from 0 to 500 degrees. Instead of showing changes in the temperature, the AQI is a way of showing changes in the amount of pollution in the air.

Pollution fine particles steadily rose through the upper 80s Sunday, hitting a high of 105 overnight, and there is a high of 98 today in the St. Cloud area.

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For reference, "Good" air quality is usually 0-50, "Moderate" is 51-100, "Unhealthy for sensitive groups" is 101-150, and "Unhealthy" is 151-200. Anything over 200 is considered very unhealthy.

With a temperature high of 84 today, there is also a widespread haze that isn't supposed to break until early afternoon. The haze is coming from Canadian wildfires in Ontario. The smoky haze will eventually fade as winds turn out of the south Monday, allowing the sky to clear.

In the meantime, people sensitive to poor air quality like the elderly, or people with asthma should try to stay inside if at all possible. Keep windows closed, and turn on the AC system in your home. Air purifiers also help, as does avoiding chores that kick up dust like vacuuming. This is as good of an excuse as any to avoid some chores for another day.

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