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How The Wildfires Could Affect The Lives Of Wichitans

Tracey Weaver

As firefighters continue to work to get the wildfire in South central Kansas under control, some residents are still battling the affects from the smoke.

Susan Erlenwein, Director of Environmental Services for Sedgwick County, says inhaling smoke from the wildfire tends to irritate pre-existing conditions.

"The smoke can have particulates in it, tiny particles of ash and debris, and it also increases the ozone level," Erlenwein says. "Anyone with asthma problems, or bronchitis, or any other pre-existing problems with respiratory systems should try to stay inside or wear a mask if the smoke gets worse."

When ground-level ozone, an air pollutant, is formed, it can be harmful to one's health.

Wichita's ozone season is April 1 through October 31. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency review readings during that time to determine if the city has exceeded the acceptable ozone level.

In 2017, the season will begin in March. Had the blaze occurred during the ozone season, Erlenwein says the EPA could make an exception to the rule since it was due to an uncontrolled wildfire.


Carla Eckels is assistant news director and the host of Soulsations. Follow her on Twitter @Eckels.

To contact KMUW News or to send in a news tip, reach us at news@kmuw.org.


Carla Eckels is Director of Organizational Culture at KMUW. She produces and hosts the R&B and gospel show Soulsations and brings stories of race and culture to The Range with the monthly segment In the Mix. Carla was inducted into The Kansas African American Museum's Trailblazers Hall of Fame in 2020 for her work in broadcast/journalism.