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10:13 AM

KCUR: Air quality warnings have spiked in Kansas City. Here's what it means for our health.

kcur air quality

By Noah Taborda

At KC CARE Health Centers, more people of all ages have been coming in lately with symptoms associated with seasonal allergies — uncharacteristic for this time of year — and worsening symptoms of asthma.

Sarah Dashwood, a physician with the center, said this concerning uptick has occurred within the last couple of weeks. The increase in patients coincides with a spike in air quality alerts issued by The Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) in the past month.

MARC has issued nine ozone alerts since the ozone season began March 1. Unlike the ozone far above the earth’s surface, ozone closer to the ground is a highly chemically reactive substance and harmful to humans.

The majority of the alerts issued in the last month have been orange alerts. During orange alerts, people who are at risk include older adults, young children and those with respiratory or heart conditions. People in these groups are cautioned to limit time outdoors.

Ozone pollution can cause chest pains, coughing, nausea and difficulty breathing. In some cases it can trigger an asthma attack, said Jay Portnoy, an allergist at Children’s Mercy Kansas City.

He said this recent spike has not led to an increase in hospitalizations among children during a time of year when child admissions for asthma are typically low. But he said prolonged ozone alerts are especially dangerous for adults. Health care providers are carefully watching for increased hospitalizations among adults.

Portnoy also emphasized ways people can help reduce ozone in the environment, like changing driving habits or when you mow the lawn.


See the full article via KCUR

The Division of Allergy, Immunology, Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine at Children's Mercy

Asthma Education