MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Even low levels of air pollution can contribute to serious illnesses and early death, according to a new report from the Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

The report, which analyzed data from 2013, says five to ten percent of deceased Minnesotans died partly because of air pollution. Over two thousand premature deaths, 800 emergency room visits and 500 hospital stays were attributed to Minnesota air pollution, the MDH said.

(credit: Minnesota Pollution Control Agency)

Another big finding is pollution levels are higher overall in Southern Minnesota. In the metro, fine particles are highest while ozone concentrations are highest in the southwest.

The report reminds people that air pollution is not just a “city issue” but disproportionately affects areas with low health insurance coverage and poverty. These areas, the report said, have the highest rates of pollution-related health concerns.

The MDH warns that seniors, those with heart or lung conditions, and children with asthma are most likely to be affected by poor air quality.

The entire report, along with more information about air quality and its impacts on health, can be found at the MPCA and MDH websites.