Monday, October 31, 2022

Local Outdoor Air Quality & Best Practices to Improve It

In this webinar, presented live on October 19, 2022, we learned more about the best practices for decreasing air contaminates and improving air quality in your community.


  • 9:00am - Welcome & Introductions
  • 9:15 - Overview of air pollution, Megan Kuhl-Stennes - MPCA
    • Megan started with an explanation on the difference between point-source (industrial and power generation) and non-point sources (backyard fires, internal combustion engines, and small businesses like gas stations, auto body shops, and dry cleaners) of air pollution. 
  • 9:25 - What is the Air Quality Index?, Matt Taraldsen - MPCA
    • Matt, a meteorologist with the MPCA, shared the Air Quality Index and discussed the criteria pollutants: ozone and PM 2.5. The Index has categories from Good to Hazardous. When a criteria pollutant reaches above 100 (orange on the map), the MPCA issues an air quality alert. In addition, air quality forecasting is available by modeling and working with NASA to use hourly satellite imagery. 
  • 9:40 - Air pollution tools, Eric Wilcox Freeburg - MPCA
    • Eric shared that there are over 2,000 permitted facilities for air emissions across the state but only 3% of the facilities have risk assessments. The MNRISKS tool provides an air emissions inventory and statewide modeling to assess risks across the state. These Air Pollution Scores are shared on the MPCA's areas of concern for environmental justice map. Scores over 1.00 are considered high-risk for cancer development. Find also, the types of high pollutants in an area, demographic data, and permitted facilities. 
  • 10:05 - Green Cost Share program and Air Sensor Project, Jenni Lansing - City of Minneapolis
    • The City of Minneapolis utilized American Rescue Plan Act funds for the Healthy Homes and Asthma program. After looking at the city's Green Zones and the EPA EJScreen tool, and holding community meetings to determine locations and pollutants to monitor, the city located PurpleAir sensors across the city and located at schools to monitor PM2.5 and will add AQMesh units to track NO2, NO, O3, CO, and total VOCs as well as PM2.5 and PM10.
    • To reduce air pollutants, the city offers a Green Cost Share Program for innovative pollution reduction projects. 
    • If you are interested in using air sensors in your community, contact the MPCA.  
  • 10:20 - Backyard fire permit ordinance, Fire Marshall Cary Smith - City of St. Louis Park
    • The City of St. Louis Park previously had 600 backyard fire permits, based on the honor system, that came with many complaints. After implementing an updated ordinance that requires a permanent permit with enforcement following complaints, the city has increased permits to 957 and reduced the complaints to just 18 last year. In addition, permitees receive annual mailings with reminders about the rules and best practices for compliance. 
  • 10:30 - Electric lawn equipment successes, Samantha Connelly - MPCA
    • Sam talked about how fuel-powered lawn equipment releases 14.76 pounds of air pollution/hour - the same as driving a car 200 miles! Electric and manual equipment benefits include lighter weight, equal performance, saving money, quieter operation, employee safety, and community health improvements. 
    • The MPCA had a grant program for 3 years that resulted in 168 projects funded and estimated VOC reductions of 361 tons! Small business funding is available for projects.   
  • 10:45 - Q&A and Discussion 
    • MnTAP provides free, confidential, and non-regulatory assistance for public or private facilities interested in reducing air pollution. 
    • Are you interested in joining a backyard burning or wood heating cohort to work on these topics more in your community? Contact Megan. 
  • 11:00 - Conclusion

View the workshop recording: 

View the PDF and additional materials:

Best Practice Actions related to this topic: 
Register for upcoming GreenStep Cities and Tribal Nations workshops here. You do not need to be a GreenStep community to attend.

 Visit the GreenStep Cities and Tribal Nations program website at

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