Kansas Chapter Monitoring Finds Unhealthy Air in Manhattan from Flint Hills Burns
By Craig Volland
Portable air pollution monitors deployed this spring by the Kansas Sierra Club and members of the CleanAirNow Coalition indicate that the health of Manhattan residents is at risk during the Flint Hills burning season. Manhattan, home to Kansas State University, is the largest population center in Kansas directly in the path of smoke moving north. One monitor was located on the south side of the city at the home of Kansas Chapter member, Carol Barta, and a second was located at the home of Chapter ExCom member, Scott Smith, on the north side.
The monitors showed 24 hour PM2.5 fine particle levels of 52.3 and 45.5 ug/M3 on April 7 and 60.3 ug/M3 on April 11 (one unit was not operating that day). These results are well above the national standard of 35 ug/M3, and are consistent with levels measured in Lincoln, Neb. the next day. This effort was intended to demonstrate the need for a continuous monitor in or near Manhattan connected to the AirNow air quality alert system.
KDHE installed continuous monitors in Wichita and Topeka (not yet operating) this year, but a look at the April 11 smoke plume (link to graphic below) shows neither unit would have detected the heavy smoke.