Health Department Issues Air Quality Advisory

Published on April 12, 2024

The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD) today issued a health advisory due to controlled burning that is expected to occur in the Flint Hills of Kansas and Oklahoma Friday, April 12 and Sunday, April 14. Smoke may reach levels that are unhealthy for children, older adults and those with asthma, lung disease, and other respiratory or heart conditions. 

“Favorable burning conditions are expected throughout the Flint Hills on Friday and Sunday and forecast wind conditions are likely to carry smoke north into the Lancaster County area,” said Gary Bergstrom, Air Quality Program Supervisor with LLCHD. “Depending on how much burning occurs, smoke in the air may reach unhealthy levels. The highest potential for smoke impacts is Friday evening through Saturday morning and Sunday evening into Monday morning.”

Breathing smoke can cause asthma attacks, worsen chronic bronchitis and emphysema, and cause chest pain in some people with heart disease, Bergstrom said. 

When the Air Quality Index (AQI) is in the orange category, that means the air quality is unhealthy for individuals with higher sensitivity to air pollution. People at risk should reduce strenuous physical activity when outdoors, take plenty of breaks and watch for symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, or chest pain. Those who experience these symptoms should contact a medical care provider. People with asthma should follow their asthma action plans and have quick relief medicine readily available. 

When the AQI is in the red category or worse, the air quality is unhealthy for everyone, and all residents should follow the guidance provided above.

Those 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 “re-circulate” setting when using a vehicle’s heater or air conditioner. 

Smoke levels may fluctuate due to wind and weather conditions and varying smoke production by the fires. Residents are encouraged to visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Fire and Smoke Map ( for information on current air quality conditions.

The EPA 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.

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