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More Hoosiers reporting respiratory issues amid wildfires’ smoke

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — There’s a cloud of concern as many parts of the country are coping with the Canadian wildfires’ smoke smothering skies.

While Indiana has been spared from higher levels of particle pollution, Hoosiers are being asked to reduce their time outdoors as the wildfires’ smoke travels across the state.

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management has issued a seventh-straight Air Quality Action Day for Friday.

Thomas Evans, an Indianapolis resident, said, “Unfortunately, there’s nothing that we can do about it but fight it as it comes.”

“We’ve been seeing what it’s like over there in New York and it’s completely orange over there and it does look like an apocalypse,” Evans said.

Dr. Graham Carlos from Eskenazi Health says more and more patients are raising concerns about the decrease in air quality due to the Canadian wildfires. “We are worried and anxious about it. Thankfully, it’s not as bad as it seems to be on the East Coast, but for some patients it doesn’t take much for them to have trouble and tip them over, and, for some, maybe it is the smoke causing their trouble.”

Indiana Department of Environmental Management says the air quality index is above 100, which is unhealthy, especially for people with lung disease, older adults, and children.

“I’ve been talking with my colleagues here at Eskenazi and they have seen more than they expected in terms of breathing trouble,” Carlos said. “There’s also still some viruses circulating and other things going on, so it’s hard to know for sure, but it’s something we’re keeping a very, very close eye on.”

He says some people may experience increased inflammation, an attack of asthma, or emphysema. “If you are having breathing trouble, don’t delay seeking medical care. Suffering in silence at home is one of the ways that can really get people into trouble.”

Austin Evans says he struggles with asthma. He says recently it’s been harder to breathe outside. “I have an inhaler, so I did notice a little more difficulty breathing over the past couple of days, but I think pollen might be an issue, too.”

Those with chronic respiratory illnesses are encouraged to limit their time outdoors.