KDHE issues air quality health advisory due to prescribed burns – Osage County Online | Osage County News

KDHE issues air quality health advisory due to prescribed burns

TOPEKA, Kan. – Weather conditions will be conducive to burning grasslands in the Flint Hills and surrounding areas of eastern Kansas for the next two days. These burns occur annually and are conducted to maintain the prairie ecosystem by controlling invasive species such as Eastern Red Cedar and Sumac and to provide better forage for cattle. Well planned and managed periodic burns can minimize fire safety danger and is a valuable practice for managing grasslands. Smoke from the burns can cause air quality impacts when meteorological conditions do not provide for adequate dispersion of the pollutants. Pollutants from the burns can affect people in these areas and can be carried long distances to other populated areas. Although no exceedances of the national air quality standards have been measured by KDHE air quality monitors this week, pollutant readings have been elevated. These conditions are expected to continue through Thursday, April 14.

One outcome of the burns is the release of a large amount of particulate matter and substances that can form ozone in the air during a relatively short time period. Eyes and the respiratory system can be affected by fine particles and can cause health problems such as burning eyes, runny nose, coughing and illnesses such as bronchitis. People with asthma may experience aggravated symptoms. Individuals with pre-existing heart or lung diseases, children and the elderly are most likely to be affected; however, even healthy individuals may experience temporary symptoms from exposure to elevated levels of particulate matter and ozone. Steps Kansans can take to protect their health on days when smoke is present include:

  • Healthy people should curtail or avoid strenuous outdoor exercise.
  • People with heart or breathing related illnesses should remain indoors.
  • Help keep indoor air clean by closing doors and windows and running the air conditioner on recirculate setting.
  • Keep airways 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.

KDHE works with many partners to implement the Flint Hills Smoke Management Plan to help mitigate air quality impacts that result from annual controlled burns. The plan includes recommended burning practices to minimize and disperse the smoke produced by fires. For more information about controlled burns in the Flint Hills and the Flint Hills Smoke Management Plan, see www.ksfire.org.

Information thanks to Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

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