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Environmental Division

Phone: 913-715-6900

11811 S. Sunset Drive STE 2700, Olathe, KS 66061

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Air Compliance

Permitting and Inspections

 dry cleaning businessAt the center of the air program is the inspection of companies that are subject to the federal Clean Air Act, ensuring compliance with what some people refer to as "outdoor air" quality. Companies receive unannounced annual inspections from the JCDHE staff to determine compliance.

Companies that are subject to air quality regulations under the Clean Air Act have their operations reviewed by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. KDHE thoroughly reviews all processes and operations at the company's facility and determines the need for a permit and what specific regulations apply at that site. Some specific types of permits, usually for larger sources, are put on public notice to allow the public to have input.  (Find local permits in the Public Notices section.)  The completed permit will contain specific details that restrict the way a facility can operate in order to comply with the regulations. This insures that the facility's emissions will have the smallest impact on the area residents as well as the environment itself.rock quarry

After the permit is issued by KDHE, our department acts as the designated legal agent for the state. JCDHE conducts unannounced inspections at these facilities to determine compliance with air regulations and permits. We meet with company personnel and discuss and review records, existing operations, and any future facility modifications. The JCDHE staff works to educate company personnel about the regulations affecting their company and why these rules are needed. In the event of a violation, companies found to have relatively minor compliance problems may receive a letter from JCDHE requiring them to correct the situation within a specified period of time. If the inspection reveals, however, that serious or repeated violations have occurred, all information is forwarded to KDHE for possible enforcement action.

Air Quality Sources in Johnson CountyAir Sources chart

Air quality regulations may require that a company first obtain a Construction Permit/Approval from KDHE before the site is constructed. This is not to be confused with a construction permit issued by municipal building codes. Types of sources that can be subject to the air quality regulations vary, but here are some examples:

  • Diesel engines for electrical generation
  • Rock crushing
  • Painting of miscellaneous metal parts
  • Printing (lithographic, flexographic, rotogravure)

The pie chart shows some of the types of sources and the number of each that have been issued permits in Johnson County.

Pollution Control Equipment Used in Johnson County

Industries in Johnson County may be required to control the emissions created by their processes. There are different types of control equipment to help them meet this requirement. Different equipment is used by different types of industry. In some cases, more than one form of control is used by a company. Pollution controls can range from simple and relatively cheap to complex and very expensive. Here are three examples:

  • Ordinary water spray bars usually used in a rock crushing operation;
  • Afterburners which effectively "burn" emissions often found at printing facilities;
  • Baghouses which filter and collect particulates in asphalt plants.

Some types of control require a change in the manufacturing process. For instance, companies that use oil-based paints or inks would change to water-based paints or inks.

Spray Bars
This is one of several rock quarry operations within the county. Water spray bars are located at various points through the system to control the dust emissions. This is one of the least expensive methods to control emissions, which in this case is the rock dust or "particulates."

 

Afterburners
These two afterburners are examples of air pollution control equipment. Afterburners effectively "burn" the emissions and are often found at printing operations. Some use natural gas as a fuel, which can be quite expensive. More companies are switching to catalytic afterburners which use natural gas to get started, but then use the volatile fumes as fuel, thereby reducing the cost of operation. These units are located at a printing facility in Johnson County and were both operating at the time the photo was taken.

Baghouses
This is one of several hot mix asphalt concrete plants located within Johnson County. The pollutant of concern is particulates, just like the rock crushing operations. This plant, however, uses a "baghouse" (yellow arrow) to control emissions, which are exhausted through the stack (red arrow). The baghouse has numerous chambers with "socks" inside that collect the particulate.This is more effective than water spray but is also considerably more expensive. This plant was in operation at the time the photo was taken.

Air Monitoring

Ambient Air Monitoring

monitoring equipment

Johnson County is part of a regional air quality monitoring program for Kansas City. There are two current monitoring locations located in Johnson County, one at 8500 Antioch and the other at Heritage Park. The monitors are currently operated and maintained by staff from the Air Quality Program in the Unified Government of Wyandotte County (UGWC). Their monitoring staff have many years of experience and expertise in air quality monitoring and is responsible for operating an extensive ambient air quality monitoring network in Wyandotte and Johnson Counties.

Federal health levels for air quality are set by EPA for the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). The NAAQS is comprised of six criteria pollutants, each one having its own health limit: Ozone (O3), carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOx), particulate matter (PM), lead (Pb), and sulfur dioxide (SO2). This program monitors the ambient levels of these pollutants except for lead. Lead has largely been removed as a pollutant in most parts of the country as a result of the the use of unleaded gasoline. It is only monitored in local areas where there is a lead source. The monitoring staff also operates a complex weather station as part of the program. The monitoring staff coordinates closely with the Mid America Regional Council and the other state and local agencies in the region to insure that good data is collected and reported.

Gaseous Monitoring Network

The Gaseous Monitoring Network currently consists of four types of analyzers. There are for ozone, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. One ozone analyzer is operated in Johnson County at Heritage Park at 15900 Lackman.

Particulate Monitoring Network

metropolitan towerThe Particulate Monitoring Network currently consists of five types of particulate samplers with eleven monitors total. These monitors sample for various sizes of particulate matter. This includes fine particulate matter which can lodge deep in the lung tissue and some may even get into your bloodstream. At some locations, there may be two identical samplers operating side-by-side. One operates as a regular sampler and one operates as the collocated sampler to provide data verification for the regular sampler. Two fine particulate samplers are located in Johnson County. One sampler operates at the Antioch Justice Center, 8500 Antioch, and one sampler operates at 15900 Lackman, Heritage Park.

All monitors operate on a specified schedule. The filters are recovered and sent to a lab for analysis.

Locations of Monitors

 

Air Quality

skyThe goal of the Air Quality program is to protect both human health and the environment for the residents of Johnson County as well as the surrounding metro region. We are the designated legal agent for the Kansas Department of Health & Environment on matters related to the Clean Air Act in the county. Currently there are approximately 170 facilities in the county that are subject to federal and/or state air quality regulations. The goals of the department are met through inspections, complaint investigations, and public education. Ground-level ozone continues to be the primary air quality issue in the Kansas City region and we continue to work towards staying below the health standard for ozone.

 

 

Alternate Fuel Vehicles

hybrid carIn 1992, the Johnson County Environmental Department became the first government agency in the Kansas City region to use alternative fuels in vehicles when we converted two of our vehicles to run on either propane or gasoline. Our office has represented the Kansas portion of the Kansas City Clean Cities Coalition as co-chair since the mid-1990's. We were one of the first to purchase a gasoline/electric hybrid when we obtained our 2002 Toyota Prius. The Department's pursuit of alternative fueled vehicles has resulted in a directive from the Johnson County Manager that all departments are to give serious consideration to buying hybrid and/or alternative fueled vehicles when they are making new purchases. As of January 2012, the County has 55 alternative fuel vehicles.

In November 2012, JCDHE was fortunate enough to receive an all-electric vehicle to use for several days. The vehicle has a range of over 80 miles on one charge and was charged on the charging station located at the Johnson County Sunset Office Building. The Air Quality program extended an invitation to all County employees to test drive the car and many took advantage of the offer.  Photo 1   Photo 2

 

Burn Bans in Effect

Welcome to the one-stop place for all current burn bans in Johnson County, Kansas.

Fire District Ban In Effect Comments

Bonner Springs
website

No To obtain a burn permit from this department, call 913-422-5674.

Consolidated Fire District #2
(N.E. Johnson Co.)
website

No Permanent. There is no open burning allowed in Consolidated Fire District #2.

Johnson County Fire District #1 (Gardner, Edgerton, New Century Air Center)
website

No To obtain a burn permit from this district, call 913-764-7635.

Johnson County Fire District #2 (Spring Hill, Stanley, Stilwell, Bucyrus)
website

No To obtain a burn permit from this district, call 913-913-681-2764.

City of Lake Quivira
website

No To obtain a burn permit from this department, call 913-631-5300.

City of Leawood
website

No To obtain a burn permit from this department, call 913-681-6788.

City of Lenexa
website

No To obtain a burn permit from this department, call 913-888-6380.

City of Merriam
website

No To obtain a burn permit from this department, call 913-888-6066

NW Consolidated Fire District (N.W. Jo.Co, includes De Soto)
website

No To obtain a burn permit from this district, call 913-583-3886.

City of Olathe
website

No To obtain a burn permit from this department, call 913-971-7900.

City of Overland Park
website

No To obtain a burn permit from this department, call 913-888-6066.

City of Shawnee
website

No To obtain a burn permit from this department, call 913-631-1080.

Burn Regulations

The Kansas Open Burning Regulations (K.A.R. 28-19-645 thru K.A.R. 28-19-648) 

fire extinguisher training

To read all the Air Quality Statues and Regulations for the State of Kansas, please visit the Kansas Department of Health and Environment website.

In Johnson County, open burning is regulated by both the state air quality regulations as well as local fire codes, administered and enforced by our local fire departments or districts. Air quality regulations address public health as well as environmental protection. Fire codes are for the protection of life and property.

There is some overlap of the air quality regulations and the local fire codes. For the fire departments or districts that allow some type of open burning, an open burning permit is almost always required. But under state air quality regulations, an open burning exemption (same as burn permit) is required only in certain circumstances. As a result, for certain types of burning, you may have to obtain a burn permit from the fire department and a burn exemption from our office.

When to Contact the Fire Department

Under the state air quality regulation K.A.R. 28-19-647(a), if you are involved in the following activities, you DO NOT NEED AN OPEN BURNING PERMIT FROM JCDHE, but you must contact your local fire department to see if you need a burn permit under the fire code:

a)  The following open burning operations shall be exempt from the prohibition on the open burning of any materials imposed by K.A.R. 28-19-645:

  1. open burning carried out on a residential premise containing five or less dwelling units and incidental to the normal habitation of the dwelling units, unless prohibited by any local authority with jurisdiction over the premises;
  2. open burning for cooking or ceremonial purposes, on public or private lands regularly used for recreational purposes;
  3. open burning for the purpose of crop, range, pasture, wildlife or watershed management in accordance with K.A.R. 28-19-648.

When to Contact JCDHE

Under the state air quality regulations, a WRITTEN OPEN BURNING EXEMPTION IS REQUIRED FROM OUR OFFICE in accordance to K.A.R. 28-19-647(c):

Open burning operations for which an approval is required but which are deemed to be necessary and in the public interest include the following:

  1. the use of safety flares for disposal of flammable gases;
  2. fires related to the training of government or industrial personnel in fire-fighting procedures;
  3. fires set for the removal of dangerous or hazardous liquid materials;
  4. open burning of trees and brush from nonagricultural land clearing operations; and
  5. open burning of clean wood waste from construction projects carried out at the construction site.

New regulations in 2011 banned almost all types of open burning in Johnson and Wyandotte Counties during the month of April. Open burning during this month is essentially limited to the prairie burning that occurs in the Flint Hills region. The burning operations listed in 1-5 above are not to be conducted in April and should be scheduled for any other month.  If absolutely necessary, an application for burning can be made but approval will come from KDHE in Topeka and not Johnson County Department of Health and Environment. For more information and background regarding the open burning in April, please visit www.ksfire.org.firefighter training

Local fire departments sometimes burn houses or buildings destined for demolition for more realistic fire training. This may take several days before the entire house is consumed. Removal of carpeting, furniture, and asphalt-containing materials, such as shingles, is required. An asbestos inspection must be made of the premises prior to burning to comply with both state and federal regulations.

In the photo on the right, the fire department is burning a condemned house for firefighter training. They applied for and were granted an open burning exemption prior to the burn. (Photo taken by Michael Boothe)

Open burning of trees and brush from a non-agricultural land clearing operation requires prior approval. If you are removing trees and brush for some type of development, such as an office complex, residential area, or shopping center, prior approval is required in addition to meeting the requirements for the local fire department.

 

Clean Air Lawn Care

Clean air lawn care

Did you know that as much as 10% of contributing pollution comes from gasoline powered lawn care equipment? Those noisy mowers do more than hurt your hearing. They emit harmful gas into the air. High levels of air pollution mixed with a hot sunny day is the recipe for dangerous ozone levels. Ground-level ozone affects the respiratory system, causes scarring in the lungs, impairs breathing and damages vegetation. Children and adults of all ages who are active outdoors, and people with existing respiratory diseases air particularly sensitive to ground-level ozone. Adopting air-friendly lawn care practices can help improve the air quality in Kansas City.

Mowing one hour emits as much pollution as driving a car from KC to WichitaOne push mower can emit as much harmful gas in an hour as eleven modern cars. A riding mower can emit as much as 34 cars! By making the switch from gas powered lawn equipment to a more air-friendly machine, you can help prevent another Ozone Alert day in Kansas City. Also, prevent spilling gas when you fuel up your equipment by using a funnel or a spill-proof gas can. Mowing after 7 pm, especially on Ozone Alert days can prevent ground-level formation. Right from your front yard you can impress your neighbors and show them that you care about the health of your community by practicing natural lawn care.

Take Steps to Reduce Emissions

Mow Late in the Day
To reduce the amount of ozone that will form, mow after 7 pm. Avoid mowing altogether on Ozone Alert days. The harmful ozone causing fumes emitted by mowers are nitrogen oxide (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOC). These are more likely to form harmful ozone when the weather is hot and sunny. Mowing in the evening will help reduce the amount of ozone that form, not to mention make it easier on you.

Keep Your Equipment Well-Tuned
Well-tuned equipment runs more efficiently, uses less fuel, and emits less pollution. Keep your blades sharpened, too. Regular maintenance will not only benefit your lawn, making it more resistant to disease, but the mowing will go quicker and that means less air pollution and less wear and tear on your body.

Avoid Gas Spills

No spill gas canSave money and protect the air we breathe by using a funnel or a no-spill can. Americans spill an estimated 17 million gallons of gasoline each year while refueling small engines such as lawn care equipment. The vapor from gasoline spills is also a cause of air pollution.

NO-SPILL© gas cans are manufactured in Missouri and are available in the Kansas City area. Check your local hardware store. Or visit their website at www.nospill.com to find a dealer near you.

Practice Natural Lawn Care and Proper Mowing Techniques
The following is a maintenance guide for a lush, healthy, green lawn sourced from the K-State Extension Office. There are more thorough publications available on their website at www.ksuturf.com. There are also natural ways to sustain the ideal yard that suppress weeds, pests, and pollution as well as save water and reduce ground-level ozone.

Mow High - 3 to 3.5 inchesgrass cut high

  • This is crucial to natural lawn care. The grass will shade the weeds and suppress them as well as absorb more sunlight, lengthening their roots and thickening your turf. A deep root system will also lessen the amount of watering necessary.
  • Be sure to let your grass grow out to 4.5"- 5" which follows the 1/3 rule: cut one third off the top, leaving 2/3 of the grass blade.

Mulch Your Grass Clippings

  • The clippings act as a free natural fertilizer, returning the needed nitrogen to the soil as well as building depth to your topsoil.
  • Mulching your grass clippings can account for 25-50% of the nitrogen needed per year.

Water Less Frequently

  • Water when the grass begins to wilt or turn bluish-green in color. Less frequent watering encourages deep root growth of grass and reduces weed competition.
  • It takes about 1" of water per week, however some soils require more or less. A good method to follow is to soak your soil to a depth of 6-8". Use a screwdriver or a rod to measure the depth of water penetration.
  • Water early in the morning to prevent mildew disease and minimize evaporation.
  • Collect rain water from your roof for watering!  To purchase or build a rain barrel visit Bridging the Gap.

    grass roots

 

 

 

 

 

Natural Fertilizers

  • Most natural yards do not need heavy amounts of fertilizers. Building up your top soil and the soil life is the best remedy to preventing problems. It is also important to fertilize at the correct rates and times.
  • Natural compost adds high levels of nitrogen fertilizer without the NOx emissions that are formed from the production of synthetic fertilizers. It is best for your lawn and your pocketbook to not over-fertilize. The idea, "if you add more fertilizer, you will see more of the result" is incorrect. Excess fertilizer actually gets washed away with storm water and has adverse effects on the environment.  When synthetic fertilizer builds up in water systems, it causes dead zones where the marine life cannot survive.
  • See what you need before you add anything!  First test the soil. The Johnson County K-State Extension Office will perform a soil test for just $10. Call 913-715-7000.
  • Only add fertilizer/compost in the spring or the fall. The recommended application is in September, November, and May, in that order.

Organic Pesticides

  • Chemical pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, if not properly applied, can be dangerous to the environment and sometimes expose the lawn to more infestation problems.  Chemical applications affect more than just the target organism, they also affect non-target organisms that are beneficial to the soil.  By building up your top soil with the above suggestions, your lawn may be less susceptible to pest and weed infestation.
  • If you decide to apply chemical pesticides, it is important to use the proper amount and apply them at the proper time. Avoid overuse of pesticides and apply per label instructions.
  • There are several options for organic pest control depending on the specific problem.  Here are some suggestions for common problems: grub
    • Grubs, ants, chiggers, fleas, ticks:  Nematodes are a beneficial biotic organism that live in healthy soil. Adding nematodes will eliminate these pests by eating them!  You can order a solution containing nematodes online, further instructions included.
    • Crab Grass (Digitaria) and other weeds: Corn Gluten Meal is an organic herbicide that inhibits the growth of roots in germinating plants, but does not affect established grass or bulbs. Do not apply the corn gluten for three weeks after planting new grass seed.

Natural Professional Lawn Care Services

If you use a professional lawn care provider to tend to your lawn care needs, consider hiring a natural professional lawn care service. Several companies in Kansas City specialize in natural lawn care. Here are some that we found using Google and Yahoo:

Johnson County Health and Environment does not endorse these lawn care companies, nor is criticism implied for those businesses and products not listed.

 

Fire Departments

Before conducting any open burniing operations you will need to contact your local fire department to find out what permits they require.

The telephone number for the Emergency Communications Center is 913-432-1717 or 913-826-1001.  You can call this number if no one answers at the fire station.  The telephone number for Johnson County Med-Act is 913-715-1950.

For emergencies, please call 9-1-1.

Bonner Springs Fire Department
913-422-5674
Fax 913-422-7109
PO Box 38
Bonner Springs, KS  66012

Consolidated Fire District #2
Serving Northeast Johnson County
913-432-1105
Fax 913-432-7867
3921 W 63rd St
Prairie Village, KS  66208

Fire District #2, County of Johnson, Kansas
Serving Johnson and Miami Counties including Spring Hill
913-681-2764
Fax 913-681-2786
19495 Metcalf Ave
Stilwell, KS  66085

Johnson County Fire District #1
Serving Southwest Johnson County including Gardner and Edgerton
913-764-7635
Fax 913-782-5709
490 New Century Pkwy
New Century, KS  66031

Lake Quivira Fire Department
913-631-5300
Fax 913-631-5761
10 Cresent Blvd
Lake Quivira, KS  66217

Leawood Fire Department
913-681-6788
Fax 913-681-2399
14801 Mission Rd
Leawood, KS  66224

Lenexa Fire Department
913-888-6380
Fax 913-888-2143
9620 Pflumm Rd
Lenexa, KS  66215

Merriam Fire Department
913-322-5530
Fax 913-322-5535
9000 W 62nd Terr
Merriam, KS  66202

Northwest Consolidated Fire District
Serving Northwest Johnson County including De Soto
913-583-3886
Fax 913-583-1363
9745 Kill Creek Rd
De Soto, KS  66018

Olathe Fire Department
913-971-6333
Fax 913-971-7982
1225 S Hamilton Circle
Olathe, KS  66061

Overland Park Fire Department
913-888-6066
Fax 913-895-8465
12401 Hemlock
Overland Park, KS  66213

Shawnee Fire Department
913-631-1080
Fax 913-631-1628
6501 Quivira Rd
Shawnee, KS  66216

 

Help Reduce Ozone

grandmother and grandsonGround-level ozone impairs breathing, irritates the lungs, causes scar tissue in the lungs, and damages vegetation. Those most at risk are people with asthma, emphysema, heart conditions, as well as children, elderly, and healthy adults engaged in vigorous work or exercise outdoors. On high ozone concentration days, everyone is at risk.

The Clean Air Act requires EPA to set air quality standards to protect both public health and the public welfare, e. g., crops and vegetation. Ground-level ozone affects both.

The EPA website has an on-line course for health professionals titled "Ozone and Your Patients' Health" that has information everyone can use as a resource to learn about the health effects of ground-level ozone. 

What You Can Do to Help

Each individual contributes to the formation of ground-level ozone, as well as industrial and commercial entities, and with simple efforts, each person can help reduce the emissions of harmful pollutants. Air-friendly tips are typically money saving and time saving tips, too!

In Your Car:

  • Drive less by combining trips and planning in advance
  • Bike, walk or ride the bus when possible.
  • Keep personal vehicles well-tuned and tires inflated properly. You can save up to 20% on the amount of gasoline you use.
  • Pressure check vehicle gas caps annually and replace when necessary. A faulty gas cap can allow up to 30 gallons of fuel per year to evaporate.*
  • Refuel as late in the day as possible (after 7 pm preferably), especially on ozone alert days.
  • Stop at the click. Don't top off your tank when you refuel. This keeps harmful fumes from being forced into the air.

*Note:  A faulty gas cap can allow up to 30 gallons of fuel per year to evaporate. At today's prices which can climb over $3 per gallon, you could be wasting over $90 per year compared to a new gas cap which only costs around $10! JCDHE checks gas caps at various public events, including Earth Day at Shawnee Mission Park and at AquaFest in Olathe.

At Work:

  • Allow and promote teleconferencing instead of driving to meetings. If you must drive, carpool when possible.
  • Bring your lunch, carpool or walk to lunch, especially on ozone alert days.
  • Inquire about flexible work schedules that would promote driving less, such as the four day work week.
  • Commute in style: bike, walk, carpool or take public transportation to work. Get in some exercise, good conversation or a little reading in the process!
  • Purchase and use low-volatile organic compound (VOC) paints, solvents, pesticides, etc.
  • Select printing companies that use soy-based inks or other low-emissions print processes.

At Home:

  • Reduce the amount of energy you use at home. Most of this area's electricity comes from coal-fired power plants that significantly contribute to ground-level ozone.
  • Purchase ENERGY STAR equipment.
  • Use compact fluorescent light bulbs. Turn off lights and appliances when they are not in use.
  • Adjust the thermostat to a slightly higher setting in summer and consider installing a programmable thermostat.
  • Avoid chemicals that contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as spray paint, paint thinners, glue solvents, and pesticides.

In the Yard:

  • Mow as late as possible, preferably after 7 pm, when there is less sun and heat.
  • Replace older gas cans with new "no-spill" gas cans for refueling equipment. Emissions from gasoline spills are major contributors to ozone and spilled gasoline costs you money.
  • Practice low-maintenance lawn care, requiring less frequent mowing and less inputs of polluting chemical pesticides.
  • Consider replacing any gasoline powered equipment with electric, batter or manual powered equipment.
  • Convert lawn spaces to native plants to reduce the amount of mowing and watering.
  • Avoid open burning.

On The Grill:

  • Do not use lighter fluid. It pollutes on both evaporation and burning. Your food will taste better without it, too!
  • Use a charcoal chimney instead of lighter fluid to start the coals. They are easy to use and leave no telltale taste in the food.
  • Choose briquettes that are additive-free and avoid any added chemicals flavors  to the food.
  • Gas grills emit less pollution than charcoal grills.
  • Postpone grilling until evening on ozone alert days.

 

Indoor Air

Many people are surprised to learn that there are very few federal, state or local regulations regarding indoor air quality (IAQ), whether it is in the home or the workplace. Although IAQ may not be regulated, we try to provide you with the information and guidance necessary on how to best proceed with indoor air problems.

Any type of building or home can have issues related to IAQ. New homes, offices, and schools are built to be tight and solid in order to conserve energy. This can lead to inadequate ventilation and less ventilation may lead to higher concentrations of indoor pollutants. Owners of existing buildings and homeowners are attempting to increase energy-saving and decrease heating and cooling costs by installing storm windows and insulation, caulking and weather stripping, and heating through natural resources. All buildings and homes need regular maintenance as they age. Paint and caulking deteriorate, pipes break, roofs leak, and so on, which can lead to problems with indoor air quality.

Indoor pollutants may cause discomfort and illness. People with lung problems, such as asthma or emphysema, are the most sensitive and may become affected before an otherwise healthy person would even notice there was a problem. At extreme levels, they can even be fatal. IAQ pollutants have many sources and may include combustion sources such as solvents, oil, gas, and tobacco products; building materials that contain asbestos; carpet, furnishings or structural elements on which mold and mildew have grown; products for cleaning, personal care, and hobbies; chemicals such as pesticides; gases such as radon; and heating and cooling systems.

The "Big Three" in IAQ are asbestos, radon, and mold.

stack of asbestosAsbestos is a mineral fiber that has been used in the past for many building materials for the purpose of insulation and fire-retardation. It can be positively identified only with a special type of microscope. There are several types of asbestos fibers. Several asbestos products have been banned by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC). Today, asbestos is most commonly found in older homes and buildings. It can be found in pipe and furnace insulation, shingles, millboard, textured paints, and floor tiles. It can still be found in new products, such as wallboard or tile flooring that are made outside of the U.S. but imported here. Asbestos is not always considered hazardous. Even if asbestos is in your home, this is usually NOT a serious problem. The mere presence of asbestos in good condition in a home or a building is not hazardous. The danger is that asbestos materials may become damaged over time. Damaged asbestos may release fibers and become a health hazard. The best thing to do with asbestos material in good condition is to leave it alone! Disturbing it may create a health hazard where none existed before.

 

 

RadonRadon is a cancer-causing natural radioactive gas that you can't see, smell or taste. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, and the second leading cause of lung cancer in this country. Every year, about 20,000 people die due to radon. In Johnson County, extensive testing has shown that roughly 40% of the homes in the county will have elevated levels of radon. Radon is found in all types of soil, from clay to sand to rich loam. Since it found in the soil, it can be a problem for any structure in contact with the ground. Radon does not discriminate; it can infiltrate any home whether large or small, new or old, drafty or well-insulated, basement or no basement. Testing is the only way to determine the existence of radon in any particular home. You can hire a contractor to test your home or you can do it yourself. There is no way to test a vacant lot for radon prior to new construction. The house must be in place before a valid radon test can be performed.

 

black mold in cornerMolds are a natural part of our environment. They reproduce by means of tiny spores which are invisible to the naked eye and float through the air continually. Mold may begin to grow indoors when the spores land on wet surfaces. There are many types of mold. People who have serious mold allergies have severe reactions and people with chronic lung illness may develop mold infections in their lungs. Mold can primarily cause respiratory health problems such as allergies, inflammation, and infections. Coughing, sneezing, eye irritation, sore throat, skin rashes and shortness of breath are some of the symptoms. While much of the media attention has been focused on "stachybotrus" or the "black mold," any excess mold, no matter the color, can be a problem. Mold problems are not regulated by the federal Clean Air Act. There are no established maximum exposure levels of mold as there are with the criteria pollutants in outside air. There is a great deal of research being done on the subject to try and establish standards, but as there are thousands of types of molds, this will take time. As a result, there are few, if any, local or state regulations specifically addressing mold problems.

More Information on Indoor Air Quality Issues--PDF files

10 Things to Know About Mold

Indoor Air Quality Testing Shouldn't be Your First Move

"Stop Mold"--article from Family Handyman Magazine

Kansas Landlord-Tenant Brochure

Kansas Landlord-Tenant Act

Indoor Air Quality Testing Shouldn't Be Your First Move

Centers for Disease Control-General Mold Information

Johns-Hopkins: "Lung Disorders on Mold"

Kansas Licensed Asbestos Contractors

Kansas Certified Radon Contractors

California Air Resources Board (CARB) Certified Air Cleaning Devices

CARB-Indoor Air Cleaner Fact Sheet

CARB- Beware of Ozone Generating "Air Purifiers"

Consumer Product Safety Commisison--Update on Formaldehyde

Sewer Gas FAQ's--State of Wisconsin

 

 

Open Burning

burning limbs and brushAs the designated agent for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) within the county, JCDHE enforces the state air quality regulations on open burning. These regulations are designed to protect human health and the environment. JCDHE issues open burning exemptions in accordance with these regulations when prudent and necessary. Under these regulations, certain types of open burning do not require prior consent from JCDHE while others do require written approval. However, your local fire department, which operates on their local fire code, usually requires a burn permit. Always contact your local fire department for an open burning permit.

 

We also investigate open burning complaints to determine compliance with air quality regulations when they are received. Appropriate open burning investigations are referred to KDHE and/or local fire departments for possible enforcement action.

We've developed a "one-stop shopping" site for open burning for Johnson County. You'll find the state air quality regulations as well as an application for obtaining an open burning exemption from our office. To apply for a burning permit from your local fire department or district, we have included their contact information and links to their websites. We also have a page devoted to local burning conditions and if there are any restrictions on open burning within Johnson County.

Open Burning Exemptions

The exemption form should be returned by US mail to our office at least three (3) business days prior to the start of the scheduled burning. You may also fax the completed form to 913-715-6970. Please complete all sections and write legibly.

You must include a map of the burn location with your application. A hand-drawn map is adequate but must be legible. Try using Johnson County's Automated Information Mapping System or another online mapping program to pinpoint the burn location and print the map.

The signed application should be faxed to 913-715-6970 or mailed to:

Johnson County Department of Health and Environment
Air Quality Program
11811 S Sunset Drive, Suite 2700
Olathe, KS 66061

 

Ozone Alert Days

SkyCast – The Daily Pollution Forecast

SkyCast is a daily pollution forecast for the Kansas City area. It predicts air quality based on weather conditions and pollution levels. SkyCast uses different colors -- green, yellow, orange and red, to indicate the day's pollution threat. The SkyCast is reported on the website for the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC), in the Air Quality section of this website, in the Kansas City Star, and on the local TV weather casts. As seen in this illustration from MARC, the colors indicate how the day's air quality may affect each of us.

What does all the mean? Let's break it down:

skycast forecast explained

 

 

 

 

 

 
About Ozone Alert Days

hot day

When the SkyCast for the day indicates orange or red, it's an Ozone Alert day. On these days, ozone concentrations are expected to reach unhealthy levels.  More than half of the emissions that form ground-level ozone come from everyday activities. By reducing or postponing these activities, you can help bring the levels of ozone pollution down.

From April 1 through October 31, the SkyCast for the next day will be announced by 3:00 in the afternoon. Look for the SkyCast prediction in any of the aforementioned locations.  If the color indicator for the following day's air quality is orange or red, you should take special precautions to protect your health and reduce the amount of ground-level in the Kansas City area.

 
On Ozone Alert days, MARC advises:

  • Cut back on or reschedule strenuous outside activities. Stay indoors in a well-ventilated or air-conditioned building. If you must be active outdoors, try to schedule activity before 11:00 am or after 8:00 pm.
     
  • Drive less. Combine errands and put off less-necessary trips for a cooler day, carpool or use public transit. Bring your lunch to work.
     
  • Avoid fueling. Simply filling your vehicle with gasoline can lead to pollution as fumes escape and tiny drips and spills occur, and gas vapors react with heat and sunlight to form ozone.  If you must fill your tank, do so after dusk. And be sure to avoid "topping off" your tank.
     
  • Mow later. Lawn and garden equipment is responsible for an estimated 9% of the Kansas City area's ozone-forming emissions. Postpone yard work that involves power equipment until the Ozone Alert is over.

 
Get Notified!

You can be the first to know the Air Quality Forecast in Greater Kansas City for the next day. Even better, you can get that forecast on your media of choice: email, Twitter, iPhone and Android.   Get started today with EnviroFlash: Your Environmental News Flash

 
Get Everybody Involved!workplace discussion

Inspire your co-workers to join you in your effort to improve the Kansas City air and reduce Ozone Alert days. The Mid-America Regional Council has a program called Air Quality Workplace Partnership. Over 170 companies from all over Greater Kansas City have already joined. Start your partnership today!

 
SkyCast Posters from MARC

General Poster
Daily Posters - Green  Yellow  Orange  Red
Air Quality Awareness

En Español

Indice Calidad de Aire en Español

 

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December 7, 2016 | 10:00 am to 6:30 pm

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