Flint Hills fires raise air pollutant levels in Wichita and other areas

Better Health & Wellness
Flint Hills Burning

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) — State health officials say that prescribed burning in the Flint Hills Tuesday has raised air pollutant levels today in parts of southern Kansas, including Wichita.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has issued an air quality health advisory.

The KDHE says more burning in the Flint Hills today will continue to impact air quality for the southern Flint Hills westward, including Wichita, the Red Hills region, and perhaps as far west as Liberal.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) will likely range from moderate to unhealthy for sensitive groups, and even unhealthy at times for localized areas today and tomorrow.

The KDHE says the most significant impacts will happen during the evening, overnight and mornings hours.

To see the current air quality in your area, visit AirNow.gov. This was the image as of 8 a.m. Wednesday:

Landowners n the Flint Hills use burning as a way to help preserve the tallgrass prairie, control invasive species and provide better forage for cattle. It also helps reduce the risk of wildfires.

But the smoke can influence air quality in areas that are downwind from the fires. The smoke carries large amounts of particulate matter and substances that can form ozone. It can cause health problems, even in health people.

The KDHE says common health problems include burning eyes, runny nose, coughing, and illnesses such as bronchitis. Individuals with respiratory issues, pre-existing heart or lung diseases, children, and elderly may experience worse symptoms.

What to do if smoke is in your area:

  • Healthy people should limit or avoid strenuous outdoor exercise.
  • People with respiratory or heart related illnesses should remain indoors.
  • Help keep indoor air clean by closing doors and windows and running air conditioners with air filters.
  • Keep hydrated by drinking lots of water.
  • Contact your doctor if you have symptoms such as chest pain, chest tightness, shortness of breath or severe fatigue.

For more information about the burning in the Flint Hills and the Flint Hills Smoke Management Plan, please visit the following website: www.ksfire.org.

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