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Indiana air quality at ‘unhealthy’ levels

LATEST: The air quality alert has been expanded to all of Indiana through midnight Thursday. Latest story: Indiana’s air quality some of the worst in the world

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Experts across multiple fields have warned it might be months before wildfire smoke is no longer in the air, as the presence of smoke from Canada potentially affected some people’s health Tuesday.

News 8 Chief Meteorologist Ashley Brown says Hoosiers can expect to be living with poor air quality for months.

“We’re going to deal with this this summer and off. We’ve dealt with this for most of June,” Brown said. “We’ve been in a drought, so the air is mainly dry for the most part and in dry air things just stick around for a little bit longer.”

Brown says the wind patterns and the high-pressure system are forcing the smoky air south.

“Today, we had winds at 25 mph. You had the Canadian wildfires bringing in exactly that air mass for us, so in areas to the north, South Bend, Fort Wayne, the air quality there is hazardous,” Brown said. “And the lower that you go you get down to Indianapolis you have an ‘unhealthy’ air quality.”

The National Lung Association says there are studies underway to determine the long-term effects of poor air quality, but experts do know air ranked as ‘unhealthy’ and shown in red on the map is dangerous for anyone to breathe. Indianapolis shifted into the ‘very unhealthy’ range on Wednesday morning before moving back to ‘unhealthy’ range later in the day.

“This problem we’re having with the wildfires affects the young, the elderly, and even healthy people,” said Angela Tin, the American Lung Association’s national senior director. “There’s a lot of particulates in the air from the fire, and in addition, there’s a lot of carcinogens and chemicals in the air.”

The Indianapolis Office of Sustainability issued a ‘Knozone Action Day’ for Tuesday and Wednesday, because of the poor air quality. The office urges Hoosiers to reduce contributions to ground-level ozone.

“Avoid using cars, or avoid mowing lawns,” said Lindsay Trameri, the Indianapolis Office of Sustainability Community engagement manager. “All of those activities can increase pollution and then also on days like this avoid campfires.”

Experts say, even inside, Hoosiers can take action to protect themselves: keep windows, doors, and vents closed, recirculate air, and use an air filter.