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Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - An air-quality alert issued for southeastern Minnesota due to atmospheric ozone levels has been expanded statewide and extended until Friday morning.

The original alert was set to expire at 8 PM today. The new alert is due to fine particulate pollution caused by Canadian wildfires and covers nearly the entire state, with the lone exception being the far northeastern corner of Minnesota. The State Pollution Control Agency says the smoke from Canada has been moving southward across Minnesota since this morning and could become noticeable in southeastern Minnesota this evening.

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Most of the southern third and northern third of the state are under an "orange" alert. That means the pollution levels are expected to be high enough to be considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, which includes the very young, very old, people with chronic respiratory and heart conditions, and anyone doing physically strenuous work or exercise outdoors.

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Much of the central third of Minnesota, including the Twin Cities, is under a red alert. The MPCA says fine particulate levels are predicted to become universally unhealthy, and everyone is being advised to avoid prolonged time outdoors in those areas.

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