The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD) today encouraged residents to monitor the Air Quality Index (AQI) to determine if the levels of smoke are unhealthy. Favorable burn conditions today across the Flint Hills region of Kansas and Oklahoma, combined with south winds, may carry smoke into Lincoln and Lancaster County Tuesday night into Wednesday. At this time of the year, smoke from agricultural and prescribed burns can cause health issues, especially for children, older adults and those with asthma, lung disease, other respiratory conditions or heart disease. Those at risk are encouraged to check the AQI before doing any strenuous outdoor activity.
The LLCHD monitors air quality 24 hours a day and the AQI at lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: air) is updated hourly. These monitors provide air quality data to help provide health recommendations to Lancaster County residents. Gary Bergstrom, Air Quality Supervisor for the LLCHD, said when the tiny particles and gases in smoke are inhaled into the lungs, they can cause asthma attacks, worsen chronic bronchitis and emphysema, and cause angina (chest pain) in some people with heart disease.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also provides an AirNow app for iOS devices. The air quality levels are color-coded on the AQI chart:
When air quality is unhealthy, those at risk can further protect their health by staying indoors, keeping windows and doors closed and using the "re-circulate" setting when using a vehicle air conditioner. Those who experience difficulty breathing, coughing, unusual fatigue, heart palpitations, tightness in the chest, or angina should contact a medical care provider.
For more information on LLCHD, visit health.lincoln.ne.gov.