For Immediate Release
October 19, 2012

KDHE Office of Communications, 785-296-0461

Dust Levels Heightened Due to Strong Winds

TOPEKA- A deep low pressure weather system over the upper Mississippi Valley created very strong northwest winds over the Great Plains on Thursday, Oct. 18. Wind speeds across Kansas were generally in the 45-55 mph range with some gusts over Nebraska exceeding 60 mph. With strong winds, dry conditions, and many fields freshly broken up for fall cultivation, large amounts of air borne dust were seen across much of the state. Although not as strong as yesterday, these windy conditions are likely to persist through the day on Friday, Oct.19.

KDHE air quality monitors measured readings that exceeded national air quality standards for Particulate Matter less than 10 microns in diameter (PM10) in Sedgwick County on Thursday and were elevated across other parts of Kansas, including Shawnee and Ford Counties. Particulate matter is the term for solid or liquid particles found in the air, or dust.

If you are healthy, you're usually not at a major risk from short-term exposures to higher concentrations of particulate matter. Major concerns for human health from exposure to PM10 include: effects on breathing and respiratory systems and damage to lung tissue. The elderly, children, and people with chronic lung disease, influenza, or asthma, are especially sensitive to the effects of particulate matter.  There are ways to reduce exposure to particulate matter and the related health impacts. It is important to limit your exposure to particulate matter, especially if you fall into one of the high-risk categories.

Here are steps you can take to protect your health on days when particulate matter is present: