Flint Hills burning causes ozone levels to spike in Wichita Tuesday night

The haze from the controlled burns in the Flint Hills provided a smoky sunset in Derby. (Courtesy: Misty Long)

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Ozone levels spiked Tuesday evening in Wichita after prescribed burns in the Flint Hills. Easterly wind sent smoke into the Wichita area between 5 and 7 p.m.

“Ozone levels were at 93 parts billion at 6 p.m. and 94 parts billion at 7 p.m.,” said Baylee Cunningham, Air Quality Specialist for the City of Wichita. “But because ozone levels were reasonably low earlier in the day, the reported eight-hour average for April 11 was 70 parts per billion.”

This photo shows haze over Wichita. (KSN File Photo)

Cunningham said the city maintained compliance for the set standard. According to EPA, the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone is 70 parts per billion.

“The standard is based on an eight-hour average because health effects are based on an eight-hour average,” added Cunningham. “Those one hour spikes contribute to that eight-hour average and are moderately higher than what we would normally see.”

Typically, ozone in Wichita on an average April day is 40s or 50s.

“If we would have had an average of 71, we would have exceeded the standard for the day,” Cunningham said.

On Monday, the city informed citizens that high ozone levels were expected.

“When we called the alert on Monday, we looked at all the precursors sort of the ingredients that would cause a high ozone day,” added Cunningham. “We believe advising the community of the Ozone Alert Day on Monday and residents’ participation, collectively made the difference in avoiding an exceedance day.”

The city said citizens made a difference during the day by cutting down on mowing and fueling up at later times. The city asked people to bike or walk to avoid emissions from driving.

The community will be advised of ozone conditions daily through the City of Wichita Facebook page, the City’s website or on Twitter @BeAirAwareKS.


  • Refuel when it’s cool (after 6 p.m. or after dark)
  • Walk or ride your bike to work
  • Delay mowing
  • Stop fueling at the sound of the click
  • Take your lunch to work to avoid driving during the hottest part of the day
  • Turn off your car or don’t idle more than 30 seconds
  • Postpone errands
  • Delay painting projects

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