Health officials recommend monitoring air quality this weekend

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- There are possible air quality concerns in Douglas County this weekend as agricultural fires in Kansas could push air into the moderate category or even unhealthy for sensitive groups.

Air Now
That means people should monitor the conditions so individuals with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children who may have concerns can avoid prolonged or heavy exertion.

Russ Hadan, the supervisor of the Douglas County Health Departments air quality program, said this weekend’s conditions will depend on the amount of burning that takes place in northeast Kansas. Winds are expected to be from the south which could create less healthy conditions. The possibility of rain could lessen the concern.

Hadan said the best way to know what is happening is to monitor conditions at airnow.gov.

“Everyone can monitor the Air Quality Index on the Health Department’s website or go to airnow.gov for the next few days,” Hadan said. “The potential concerns are from particulate matter that may get into the air.”

When smoke is present, everyone should take the following steps:

  • Use common sense. If it looks smoky outside, it's probably not a good time to go outside for strenuous exercise.
  • Pay attention to local air quality reports. You can monitor the conditions at airnow.gov. Simply wait for the U.S. map to appear, then click on Omaha and zoom in. That page includes the forecast and provides hourly updates.
  • If you are advised to stay indoors, take steps to keep indoor air as clean as possible. Try to avoid using anything that burns. Don't vacuum and don't smoke.
  • If you have asthma or other lung diseases, make sure you follow your doctor's directions about taking your medicines and following your asthma management plan. Call your doctor if your symptoms worsen.

It is important for individuals with lung disease, respiratory disease or a heart condition to monitor the air quality. Parents should monitor conditions for their children. If you’re healthy, a short-term exposure to smoke usually does not pose a major health risk.