Environmental Concerns in Sedgwick County

The environmental concerns plaguing Sedgwick County aren't so different from those affecting the rest of the country and world - people outnumbering resources, pollution, etc. Sedgwick County urges residents to pay specific attention to the following issues and take action to limit their contribution to the problem.


View Kansas Department of Health and Environmental air quality data for Sedgwick County.


Ozone occurs naturally in the upper atmosphere where it is beneficial since it protects us from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. Ozone that forms at ground-level is not helpful; in fact, it's harmful.

Ground-level ozone is a man-made pollutant that forms when volatile organic compounds (VOCs) mix with nitrogen oxides (NOx) in the presence of heat and sunlight. More than half of these ozone-forming pollutants are caused by everyday actions, such as driving, painting, refueling and using gas-powered lawn and garden equipment.

Harmful Effects

Prolonged exposure to ground-level ozone can cause irritation to the eyes, nose and lungs leading to inflammation, chest pains, and difficulty breathing. Ground-level ozone damages vegetation and reduces crop production. In Sedgwick County, the highest levels of ozone typically occur from April to September.

Help Reduce Ground-level Ozone

Watch a short video about ozone and the small changes you can make to help reduce it.

Get tips to reduce ozone in Sedgwick County - printable flier.

Particulate Matter

Particulate matter (PM) is the term for a mixture of solid particles and liquid droplets found in the air. Some particles, such as dust, dirt, soot, or smoke are large or dark enough to be seen with the naked eye. Others are so small; they can only be detected using an electron microscope.

EPA groups particle pollution into two categories:

1) Inhalable coarse particles, such as those found near roadways and dusty industries.

2) Fine particles, such as those found in smoke and haze, are 2.5 micrometers in diameter and smaller. These particles can be directly emitted from fires, or they can form when gases emitted from power plants, industries and automobiles react in the air. Fine particles are easily inhaled deep into the lungs.

Fine particles can remain suspended in the air and travel long distances. They have been linked to environmental and physical damage. As particles settle, the nutrient and chemical balance of soil and water is changed. Particle pollution, unlike ozone, can occur year-round.

Sedgwick County is in attainment of the current particulate matter standards recommended by the EPA.

Other Pollutants

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas that is formed when carbon in fuel is not burned completely. Seventy-five percent of carbon monoxide comes from motor vehicles. Other sources of CO emissions include industrial processes, residential wood burning, and fires. High levels of carbon monoxide are poisonous to people. The level of CO in Sedgwick County is below the EPA standard.

Nitrogen oxides (NOx) is a term for gases that contain nitrogen and oxygen in varying amounts. NOx is one of the main ingredients involved in the formation of ground-level ozone. The primary manmade sources of NOx are motor vehicles, electric utilities, and other industrial, commercial, and residential sources that burn fuels. NOx contributes to the formation of acid rain that can deteriorate cars and buildings. They cause lakes and streams to become acidic and unsuitable for many fish. NOx can be transported over long distances with wind and can cause respiratory problems. NO2 is the most abundant of the nitrogen oxide gases. The level of NO2 in Sedgwick County is below the EPA standard.


What is e-waste?

E-waste is electronic equipment you no longer have use for, including computer components, TVs, pagers, cell phones, stereos, video game consoles, etc. Some stoves and refrigerators have electronic components, but those usually are not accepted as e-waste.

Why recycle e-waste?

Electronic components contain hazardous elements such as mercury, lead, lithium, cadmium, and brominated flame retardants, which are toxic and can leak into the environment when left in landfills. This causes problems for plants, animals and humans and can even cause cancer.

How can I recycle e-waste?

It is always better to reuse, then recycle. So, if you are able to sell or give away an old working electronic item, do so! If not, or if it no longer works, click here for a list of businesses that accept e-waste (listed by item type).

Outdoor Recreation


Obey messages that are posted and never take fish from one body of water to another. Fish from the majority of Sedgwick County waters are safe to eat. Fish consumption advisories can be found on the KDWP website at www.kdwp.state.ks.us.

Get a License! Anyone 16 years of age and older must obtain a Kansas fishing license available through the Sedgwick County Clerk's Office.

White Perch

It is now illegal to possess live white perch! White perch are an invasive species that were accidentally introduced to area lakes. They out compete native fish for food and space and have been associated with the decline of walleye and white bass. If you catch a white perch, do not release it back into the water. Eat or dispose of it on dry ground or in the trash. Check park rules for specific directions.

Zebra Mussels

Zebra mussels are invading the waters of Kansas. Adult zebra mussels are usually the size of a fingernail and commonly have alternating dark and light stripes. They reproduce rapidly and form thick mats that encrust on anything in the water. They damage boats, ruin engines, clog pipes and screens, and are disrupting ecosystems.

Zebra mussels are spread by boat hulls, in water, and on aquatic plants. Please check your boat and all equipment before entering and after exiting the water. Remove all aquatic plants. Drain water from all equipment including bait buckets and coolers. Wash equipment with 140-degree water (your local car wash hot water rinse), or a 10 percent chlorine bleach and water solution. A hot saltwater solution will also work. Dry everything for at least five days. Dispose of unwanted live bait on dry shore or in the trash.