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Hazy conditions lead to more calls to Riley Hospital for Children, canceled activities

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Unhealthy air quality in Indianapolis and statewide is causing an increase in calls to Riley Hospital for Children.

Dr. Nadia Krupp, director of the Asthma Program of Riley Hospital for Children, says calls for children with respiratory issues are up across the board.

“Kids with more sore throats, congestion, asthma symptoms, asthma flares,” Krupp said. “We’re also getting a lot more calls about parents concerned about what should they be doing.”

Krupp explains that children are more vulnerable because they are younger and have less-developed lungs.

“They breathe faster and more deeply relative to their body size than adults do,” Krupp said. “So, compared to their size and their weight, they actually get a bigger dose of the air pollution than a teenager or adult.”

Air quality that is this poor can affect anyone, not just those with respiratory illnesses, and can cause sinus problems, cough, chest congestion, headaches, sore throat, and irritated eyes.

Krupp says you can take steps to protect yourself, including staying indoors as much as possible, wearing a mask, staying hydrated, and using an air filter.

“What it does to the respiratory tract, in particular, is that it causes lots of inflammation, swelling of the breathing tubes, and lots of extra mucus produced in the chest,” Krupp said. “But it also damages the lining of the breathing tubes and makes it harder for you to clear mucus out of the lungs.”

Indy Parks & Rec on Wednesday closed pools, canceled the outdoor concert series, and modified summer day camp programming to protect children from the smoke.

“We really wanted to make sure that we were doing everything possible to keep them safe and also our pools employ a lot of teenagers and young adults,” Alex Cortwright, Indy Parks chief communications officer, said.

The Indianapolis Office of Sustainability issued a Knozone action day for both Wednesday and Thursday, encouraging people to reduce activities that increase pollution while the air quality is this poor.

“Folks are feeling a lot of anxiety and worry when it comes to what we’re seeing especially because we don’t have much control over something like wildfires,” Lindsay Trameri, community engagement manager for the Indianapolis Office of Sustainability Community engagement manager, said.

Trameri added: “Whether in our country or another country, it’s kinda a reminder of climate change and these issues of pollution and changing weather don’t stop at borders and so it can be scary to think about how this is going to be maybe more of a common reality.”

Indy Parks and other agencies will monitor conditions throughout the week and make decisions to cancel programming in real-time.