TOPEKA, Kansas – Kansans should be aware that weather conditions will be favorable for burning grasslands in the Flint Hills area of the state today, April 10 and Saturday, April 11.
These burns can create air quality impacts when meteorological conditions do not provide for adequate dispersion of the pollutants formed by the burns. Air pollutants from the burns can affect persons in the Flint Hills and can be carried long distances to more populated areas.
These burns are conducted to provide better forage for cattle and to help control invasive species such as Eastern Red Cedar and Sumac. Well planned and managed periodic burns can minimize fire safety danger and is a valuable tool for managing rangeland.
Smoke is made up of a complex mixture of gases and fine particles produced when wood and other organic matter burn. The fine particles can get into your eyes and respiratory system, where they can cause health problems such as burning eyes, runny nose, and illnesses such as bronchitis.
Fine particles and ozone can also aggravate chronic heart and lung diseases. Older adults and children are at highest risk for health problems especially those with underlying health conditions.
There are ways to reduce exposure to smoke during the burning season and the related health impacts. It is important to limit your exposure to smoke, especially if you fall into one of the high-risk categories. Here are steps you can take to protect your health on days when smoke is present:
- Healthy people should curtail or avoid strenuous outdoor exercise.
- People with heart or breathing related illnesses should remain indoors.
- Help keep indoor air clean by closing doors and windows and running the air conditioner on ‘recirculate’ setting.
- Keep airways moist by drinking lots of water.
- Contact your doctor if you have symptoms such as chest pain, chest tightness, shortness of breath or severe fatigue.
The plan includes recommended burning practices to minimize and disperse the smoke produced by the fires.