A new report from state agencies concludes that while air quality in Minnesota is generally good, air pollution contributes to deaths and hospitalizations across the state. Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm says 2013 data show between one and five percent of Minnesotans who went to the hospital with heart- or lung-related problems, did so because air pollution aggravated their condition. “What that translates to is between two and four thousand premature deaths in Minnesota that year, 500 hospitalizations, 800 emergency room visits being attributable to air pollution,” Malcolm says.
Most affected were people over age 65 with pre-existing conditions and young children with uncontrolled asthma. But Malcolm says low-income communities were also harder-hit because they could be closer to sources of air pollution.