For Immediate Release
July 20, 2012

KDHE Office of Communications, 785-296-0461

Air Quality Health Advisory Issued for Major Metro Areas

TOPEKA, Kan.—(July 21, 2012) The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has issued an Air Quality Health Advisory (AQHA) for the major metropolitan areas of the state—Kansas City, Topeka and Wichita.

The AQHA is being issued because the high pressure system responsible for the light to moderate winds, mostly clear skies and predicted temperatures over 100 degrees is expected to continue at least through the middle of next week.

“Cloudless skies and excessive heat are conducive to the formation of ozone,” said KDHE Bureau of Air Director Rick Brunetti. “Coupled with the light to moderate winds, elevated concentrations of ozone are possible, especially in the major metropolitan areas of the state.”

KDHE warns 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 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, limit 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. Schedule outdoor exercise and children's outdoor activities in the morning hours. Individuals who experience respiratory symptoms may wish to consult their doctors.

Residents and employers are asked to use these tips to help make the air healthier to breathe:

        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.

To learn more about the air you’re breathing, visit:

OZONE BACKGROUND: Ground level ozone is formed by a chemical reaction that needs heat from sunlight, nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to form. The months of April through October make up Kansas’ “ozone season.”