Western Wildfires Affecting Indiana Air Quality

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) issued a statewide alert on Indiana air quality July 21-22 due to smoke from wildfires in the western United States and Canada.

Air Quality Action Days generally occur when weather conditions such as light winds, higher humidity, and lower atmospheric inversions trap pollutants close to the ground, or when winds transport smoke to the area.

According to IDEM, health impacts associated with  AQI categories are:

  • High Moderate: Occasionally, an action day is declared when the AQI is in the high Moderate range, or Code Yellow, if the levels are expected to approach Code Orange levels. Health alerts issued under these conditions are intended to inform the general public that there may be a moderate health concern for individuals who are unusually sensitive.
  • Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups (USG): This triggers a health alert to inform the general public about potential impacts to sensitive groups, including people with lung disease, older adults and children who are more vulnerable to ozone and people with heart and lung disease, older adults and children who are more vulnerable to PM2.5.
  • Unhealthy: This triggers a health alert to inform the general public that everyone may begin to experience some adverse health effects and members of sensitive groups may experience more serious effects.
  • Very Unhealthy: This triggers a health alert to inform the general public that everyone may experience more serious health effects.
  • Hazardous: This triggers a health warning of emergency conditions that are more likely to affect the entire population.

During an AQAD period, Hoosiers can help reduce particulate matter in the air by temporarily adjusting their habits.  IDEM recommends:

  • Reduce activity time outdoors.
  • Avoid burning wood and other unnecessary fires.
  • Avoid using gasoline-powered equipment and recreational vehicles.
  • Combine errands to reduce time driving.

To learn more, or to sign up for air quality alerts, visit SmogWatch.IN.gov.