State health officials on Saturday issued an air quality advisory for the state’s three major metropolitan areas — Wichita, Topeka and Kansas City — because of unhealthy ozone levels brought on by the heat and lack of wind.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said the advisory is expected to continue until at least the middle of next week because forecasts call for temperatures to remain more than 100 degrees.
“Cloudless skies and excessive heat are conducive to the formation of ozone,” KDHE Bureau of Air Director Rick Brunetti said. “Coupled with the light to moderate winds, elevated concentrations of ozone are possible, especially in the major metropolitan areas of the state.”
KDHE warned that unhealthy levels of ozone can cause throat irritation, coughing, chest pain, shortness of breath, increased susceptibility to respiratory infection and aggravation of asthma and other respiratory ailments. These symptoms are worsened by exercise and heavy activity, the agency said
Children, elderly and people who have underlying lung diseases, such as asthma, are at particular risk of suffering from these effects. As ozone levels increase, the number of people affected and the severity of the health effects also increase.
To avoid experiencing these effects, the KDHE recommended limiting outdoor exercise and strenuous activity and stay in an air-conditioned environment if possible during the afternoon and early evening hours, when ozone levels are highest. The agency also said to schedule outdoor exercise and children’s outdoor activities in the morning hours. Individuals who experience respiratory symptoms may wish to consult their doctors.
To help make the air healthier to breathe, the KDHE offered these tips:
• Drive as little as possible: car pool, use public transit or telecommute.
• Avoid using gasoline powered trimmers and leaf blowers.
• Refuel your vehicle in the evenings and do not top off the tank.
• Reduce idling; avoid congested traffic areas if possible.