LINCOLN–(KFOR/News Release May 13)–The Air Quality Index in Lincoln is in the orange range or unhealthy category, due to haze from smoke moving in from the wildfires in western Canada.

If you have respiratory or heart issues, you’re advised to stay inside or limit time outside. An air quality advisory was issued Monday by the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department.   Breathing smoke can cause asthma attacks, worsen chronic bronchitis and emphysema, and cause chest pain in some people with heart disease,  LLCHD Air Quality Program Supervisor Gary Bergstrom said.

When the Air Quality Index (AQI) is in the orange category, that means the air quality is unhealthy for individuals with higher sensitivity to air pollution.

People at risk should reduce strenuous physical activity when outdoors, take plenty of breaks and watch for symptoms such as coughing, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, or chest pain. Those who experience these symptoms should contact a medical care provider. People with asthma should follow their asthma action plans and have quick relief medicine readily available.

When the AQI is in the red category or worse, the air quality is unhealthy for everyone, and all residents should follow the guidance provided above.

Those at risk can further protect their health when air quality is poor by staying indoors, keeping windows and doors closed, using a HEPA filter, and using the recirculate setting when using a vehicle’s heater or air conditioner.

The Air Quality Chart. (Courtesy of Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department)

Smoke levels may fluctuate due to wind and weather conditions and varying smoke production by the fires. Residents are encouraged to visit the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Fire and Smoke Map (fire.airnow.gov) for information on current air quality conditions.