We may be proud of our 10,000 Lakes here in Minnesota, but these cities are now known for having the worst air quality in the state.

When it comes to pollution in the North Star State, most of us think that our fair state is above average. Our pristine lakes, prairies, parks and recreational areas are great for getting some fresh-- unpolluted-- air, right? Heck, we even have our own state agency that was established to get a handle on pollution.

That would be the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), by the way. And, since its founding back in 1967-- three years before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was formed-- it's been serious about keeping the Land of 10,000 Lakes clean:

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is committed to ensuring that every Minnesotan has healthy air, sustainable lands, clean water, and a better climate. Through the authority of state and federal statutes and guidelines, we focus on preventing and reducing the pollution of air, land, and water.

And it turns out the MPCA is apparently doing a pretty good job, too. Because according to the latest Air Quality Index by the World Population Review, Minnesota is currently the 9th best state in the country when it comes to air quality. We scored a lowly 38.3 out of 500 on the Air Quality Index, which looks levels of ground-level ozone, particle pollution, carbon monoxide, and sulfur dioxide.

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However, even in one of the top 10 states for air quality, as the Bold North currently is, some cities are worse than others. According to the real-time Air Quality Index (AQI) from IQ Air, which is measured on a scale from 0 (least polluted) to 500 (most polluted), the following Minnesota cities have the worst air quality (as of April 8, 2024):

AQI Real-Time Minnesota Most-Polluted City Rankings

  1. Crystal - 59
  2. Mound - 58
  3. Falcon Heights - 54
  4. Minneapolis - 53
  5. Chaska - 52
  6. Roseville - 52
  7. Maple Grove - 51
  8. Shakopee - 51
  9. North Saint Paul - 48
  10. Minnetonka - 47
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And, on the other end of the spectrum, IQ Air also lists the Minnesota cities with the best air quality, as well (also as of April 8, 2024):

AQI Real-Time Minnesota Cleanest City Rankings 

  1. Alexandria - 0
  2. Silver Bay - 0
  3. Crosby - 1
  4. Onamia - 1
  5. Pequot Lakes - 1
  6. Pierz - 1
  7. Sturgeon Lake - 1
  8. Baxter - 2
  9. McGregor - 2
  10. Shorewood - 2

Those rankings change, of course, in response to real-time events in and around the Gopher State, like when all that smoke from the Canadian wildfires burning out of control caused the MPCA to issue a record number of air quality alerts in 2023.

Check out the video below to get more information on Minnesota's AQI, and keep scrolling to examine some other extremes-- temperatures-- both here in Minnesota and in every other U.S. state as well.

Listen to Curt St. John & Samm Adams
Weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m. on Quick Country 96.5

LOOK: The most extreme temperatures in the history of every state

Stacker consulted 2021 data from the NOAA's State Climate Extremes Committee (SCEC) to illustrate the hottest and coldest temperatures ever recorded in each state. Each slide also reveals the all-time highest 24-hour precipitation record and all-time highest 24-hour snowfall.

Keep reading to find out individual state records in alphabetical order.

Gallery Credit: Anuradha Varanasi

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