The Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD) today issued a Health Warning for the general public because of smoke from agricultural burning. Officials said the levels of smoke in the air are expected to be unhealthy for everyone and especially those with asthma, lung disease, other respiratory conditions or heart disease as well as older adults and children. LLCHD advises everyone to stay indoors and avoid strenuous physical activity.
Chris Schroeder, Air Quality Supervisor with LLCHD, said southerly winds and the extensive burning in the Midwest, especially the Flint Hills area of Kansas, are predicted to expose people in Lincoln and all of Southeast Nebraska to unhealthy levels of smoke in the air.
"The forecast indicates that our community is likely to be impacted for several days," Schroeder said. "Smoke is made up of tiny particles and gases. When these are breathed into the lungs, they can cause asthma attacks, worsen chronic bronchitis and emphysema, and cause angina in some people with heart disease." Residents are advised to keep windows and doors closed and use the "re-circulate" setting when using a vehicle air conditioner. Those who experience difficulty breathing, coughing, tightness in the chest or angina should contact a medical provider.
The LLCHD monitors air quality 24 hours a day, and the Air Quality Index (AQI) at lincoln.ne.gov (keyword: air) is updated hourly. The AQI is now in the red category, meaning the air quality is unhealthy for everyone.
For more information, visit health.lincoln.ne.gov.