Should I be worried about the hazy skies due to wildfire smoke?


WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The city of Wichita issued an air quality advisory for the region. As of 7 a.m. Thursday, the air quality index is 102.

“The air quality index was 102. We do monitor those conditions and issue an alert when it may be harmful for sensitive populations,” said Megan Lovely, City of Wichita communications manager.

The city said wildfires in the western United States are the source of the poorer air quality. As a result, smoke and particulates are being transported across the Plains and the East Coast due to weather conditions

The largest — eastern Oregon’s Bootleg fire — has grown to 618 square miles (1,600 square kilometers). That’s half the size of Rhode Island, yet fewer than 200 houses and other structures have been confirmed as lost because the fire is burning in a sparsely populated area. More than 200 fires are burning in Manitoba and Ontario, according to Canadian officials.

Individuals with lung disease, older adults, and children are advised to follow EPA guidance associated with these air quality conditions:

  • Choose less strenuous activities (like walking instead of running) so you don’t breathe as hard
  • Shorten the amount of time you are active outdoors
  • Be active outdoors when air quality is better
  • Keep doors and windows closed, and run an air filter to clean inside air
  • Face masks can protect against breathing in smoke

Sally Buch said she has dealt with respiratory problems her entire life. She is cautious when there is an active advisory.

“I just have to be very careful not to get an infection in my lungs not to get pneumonia or something like that,” Buch said.

Her pulmonologist advised her to stay indoors until the quality is at a much safer level. She said if she has to go outside, she will put on a mask.

“So, I don’t breathe in the air as much.”

An online, interactive smoke map was launched by the EPA and the U.S. Forest Service last year. Click the link to find out the air quality in your region.

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