The Air Quality program operates and maintains a PM2.5 continuous monitor, with assistance from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), that provides local air quality data for the Reservation. The monitor measures fine particulates (PM2.5) which include “fine particles” (such as those found in smoke and haze), which are 2.5 micrometers in diameter or less. The size of particles is directly linked to their potential for causing health problems. Small particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter pose the greatest problems because they can get into your lungs and some may even get into your bloodstream.  PM2.5 is monitored year-round.

Starting in 2024, the Air Program began monitoring for ground-level ozone, a pollutant that can be harmful to our health, especially on hot sunny days when ozone can reach unhealthy levels. Ozone can cause the following health problems: coughing, throat irritation, and pain when taking a deep breath. It can also worsen bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma. Some of these effects have been found even in healthy people. However, people with asthma, children, older adults, and people who are active outdoors are most at risk. Children are at greatest risk from exposure because their lungs are still developing and they are more likely to be active outdoors when ozone levels are high. The ozone monitoring season is from March through October each year.

Both monitors, located in Red Lake, are part of the MPCA’s network and send data as it is collected to the AirNow website ( The website provides daily air quality reports. These reports use the Air Quality Index (AQI) to tell you how clean or polluted the air is in your area. You can use the AQI to see if you are likely to be affected by current air quality and to decide if there are actions you should take (keep children indoors for playtime, etc.).  Follow this link to see the air quality index for Red Lake. 

EnviroFlash is a free service that can alert you via email when local air quality is a concern. You can sign up at

Additionally, the Air Quality program operates a Clean Air Status and Trends Network (CASTNET) small footprint site that has been in operation since August 2014. Parameters for this site are sulfur dioxide, nitric acid, particulate ammonium, particulate nitrate, particulate sulfate, magnesium, calcium, sodium, potassium, and chlorine. Follow this link for more information on this site. An ambient ammonia monitor is co-located at the CASTNET site. Follow this link for the Ammonia Monitoring Network (AMoN) website.


Other priorities and projects include: the collection of data on mercury dry deposition as part of the Litterfall Mercury Project with the National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP), ambient air mercury sampling, replacing older diesel vehicles with new diesel vehicles using Volkswagen settlement funds, installation of electric vehicle charging stations on the Reservation, deployment of a PurpleAir sensor in Warroad, and indoor air quality. Although ambient air quality has been the main focus, indoor air quality (IAQ) remains a concern. Basic IAQ home assessments of homes on the Reservation are available upon request. 

The Air Quality program has also worked to create important documents, such as a Tribal Smoke Management Plan and Emissions Inventory documents, including a draft Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory.


The Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians provides the following information as required by the terms of the Volkswagen Settlement Trust.

In 2016 the United States reached a settlement with companies collectively known as “Volkswagen” (VW) to resolve allegations that VW knowingly enabled automobiles to emit pollutants that far exceeded what is allowable under U.S. emissions standards (violating the Clean Air Act). As a result, a multimillion-dollar mitigation trust account was established for federally recognized tribes to reduce nitrous oxide emissions through approved mitigation plans. Red Lake has been officially designated as an approved beneficiary since 2019.

Our mitigation plan focuses primarily on replacing old diesel-powered vehicles with new, low-emission diesel vehicles, as well as installing Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations in several locations. In November of 2019, the Trustee disbursed monies to the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians for the 2nd of up to five (5) total funding cycles for which the Red Lake Nation is eligible. We will satisfy VW Beneficiary reporting obligations by compiling semiannual reports, which can be viewed in our public notices section below.