Health data: Air quality kills 2,000 a year in the Twin Cities

MinnPost photo by Rita Kovtun
St. Paul

Josephine Marcotty at the Star Tribune covers the release by two state agencies of an analysis of air quality and health data in the Twin Cities, finding pollution in the metro contributes to 2,000 deaths a year: “Air quality in Minnesota is generally good and meets current federal standards. But even low and moderate levels can contribute to illness and early death. The report, jointly produced by the health department and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, estimated that 6 to 13 percent of all deaths and 2 to 5 percent of all hospital visits were aggravated by small particle and ozone pollution, the two types of air pollution that cause the greatest health risk.”

In other troubling atmospheric news: Michael Rietmulder at City Pages shares Weather.com’s new report that puts Minneapolis-St. Paul among the top 10 cities most affected by climate change: “Figures, graphs and such indicate that at current greenhouse gas emission levels, Minneapolis and St. Paul are on track to get much drier in the next 50 years, while the Saintly City could be thwacked with more wild storms. Between 1958 and 2012, Minneapolis had a 40 percent increase in those ‘extreme’ storms.

Ricardo Lopez at the Star Tribune reports the final education budget bill passed by the Minnesota Legislature left out the funding needed for parents to enroll preschoolers who are hearing impaired in a specialized program at the Metro Deaf School: “Susan Lane-Outlaw, executive director at the Metro Deaf School, was dismayed when she learned legislators effectively prevented parents from enrolling their preschool-age children with a disability at charter schools… ‘If we wait until kindergarten, which is when parents can place here, they’ve lost that opportunity of language,’ Lane-Outlaw said.”

Bob Collins at MPR’s NewsCut reports that the Minnesota Court of Appeals has again declared that the law making it a crime to refuse to submit to DUI testing is constitutional: “The Court of Appeals cited a Minnesota Supreme Court ruling earlier this year — it occurred after Fichtner’s arrest — that said a breath test is constitutionally permissible as a search incident to arrest, and a person ‘does not have a fundamental right to refuse a constitutional search.'”

As long as they don’t unionize… Maria Lockwood at Forum News Service reports on goats in western Wisconsin being used to potentially clear invasive species like buckthorn from public lands: “The goats do more than mow down brush or take a bite out of invasive species. They leave behind fertilizer to enrich the soil for native plants. ‘It’s such a positive thing. How can you not want to better the environment?’ said Mattson, an advanced forest technician with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.”

In other news…

Semi Rolls, Closes Ramps Near I-35W in South Mpls. [5 Eyewitness News]

Hennepin County creates map of public cooling centers. [WCCO-TV]

Judge deals blow to researcher Lynn Rogers’ bear tracking. [NewsCut]

Last chance to get that pair of socks or matching belt: The Gap closing downtown Minneapolis store at IDS Center. [Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal]

Extra Mayo: Minnesota’s largest private employer readies $6.5 billion urban master plan. [The Architect’s Newspaper]

John Oliver on the ludicrous notion of spending public money on privately-owned stadiums. [Last Week Tonight]

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Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Robert Moffitt on 07/13/2015 - 02:12 pm.

    The scare in our air

    The MDH-MPCA air pollution and health press event this morning also announced this new website: http://www.BeAirAwareMn.org.

  2. Submitted by Tim Walker on 07/13/2015 - 04:56 pm.

    Innacurate headline

    Your headline: Health data: Air quality kills 2,000 a year in the Twin Cities

    In the 1st sentence of your story: pollution in the metro contributes to 2,000 deaths a year

    “Contributes” being a very important qualifier, eh?

    And the words “were aggravated” in the sentence below are also very important qualifiers that indicate your headline is grossly overstating the situation.

    “6 to 13 percent of all deaths and 2 to 5 percent of all hospital visits were aggravated by small particle and ozone pollution”

    • Submitted by Glenn Strand on 07/13/2015 - 06:11 pm.

      Agree with Inaccurate Headline Assessment

      I logged in to criticize MinPost’s headline writing for this story but you beat me to it. I agree with your assessment totally.

  3. Submitted by Alan Muller on 07/13/2015 - 11:02 pm.

    Little new here…..

    OK. The conclusions in the report are very similar to a report to the legislature in 2013.
    (www.alanmuller.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/House-Finance-Air-Pollution-and-Health-Hearing.pdf)

    The two agencies withheld the report until the press conference, largely ensuring that media reports would not be based on a careful reading of the report, but on the official spin. I see this as both official arrogance and mainstream media incompetence and servility……

  4. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 07/15/2015 - 12:08 pm.

    What’s interesting is how the Twin Cities are doing nothing to reduce the daily small-particle air pollution they can control (unlike Canadian forest-fire smoke, a sporadic event). The refuse to face the facts of the harm done by backyard fire pits, which are proliferating in Minneapolis at least, and they permit the expansion of the downtown Minneapolis garbage burner, whose small-particulates air pollution is not well controlled.

    “Contributing” to illness and deaths. Well, yeah. And we can limit that “contribution,” if we decide to do that.

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