Air Quality Likely to be Impacted This Year through Control Burning

LINCOLN–(KFOR/News Release Mar. 1)–Over the next eight to ten weeks, you will likely need to monitor the Air Quality Index. Controlled burning across southern portions of the U.S. Great Plains may cause elevated levels of smoke in Lincoln and Lancaster County.

Windy weather conditions combined with persistent drought throughout portions of Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas have also resulted in several large wildfires in the past one to two weeks.

The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department monitors air quality 24 hours a day and will issue an advisory when it’s likely that smoke from burning and/or wildfires could significantly impact air quality.

Breathing smoke can cause health issues, especially for children, older adults and those with asthma, lung disease, and other respiratory or heart conditions. When air quality is poor, watch for symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, or chest pain. Those who experience these symptoms should contact a health care provider. People with asthma should follow their asthma action plans and have quick relief medicine readily available.

The air quality levels are color-coded on the AQI chart as follows:

  • AQI values below 100 (green or yellow) are not expected to cause health problems for the vast majority of people.
  • AQI values between 101 and 150 (orange) indicate that air quality is unhealthy for individuals with higher sensitivity to air pollution. Children, older adults and those with asthma, lung disease, and other respiratory or heart conditions should reduce the amount of time spent outdoors and reduce exertion during outdoor activities.
  • AQI values higher than 150 (red, purple and maroon) indicate that air quality is unhealthy for all people. Outdoor activities should be moved indoors or rescheduled to a time when air quality will be better. Children, older adults and those with asthma, lung disease, and other respiratory or heart conditions should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion during outdoor activities. All others should reduce the amount of time spent outdoors and reduce exertion during outdoor activities.
The Air Quality Chart. (Courtesy of Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

People at risk can further protect their health when air quality is poor by staying indoors, keeping windows and doors closed, using a HEPA filter, and using the recirculate setting when using a vehicle’s heater or air conditioner.

The AQI at airnow.gov is updated hourly. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also provides the AirNow and SmokeSense smart phone applications to help people stay informed of the AQI in their area. These tools also provide guidance on what precautions people should take when heading outdoors.