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Hoosiers warned to stay inside as Canadian wildfire smoke brings hazy skies to Central Indiana

Specialist says he's seeing more young patients suffering from asthma and allergies
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Posted at 3:56 PM, Jun 27, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-28 17:12:51-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Health officials are warning Hoosiers to stay inside as drifting smoke from Canadian wildfires brings extremely unhealthy air to Indiana.

"We're seeing a lot of children with some significant asthma flares at this time of the year," said Dr Girish Vitalpur, an allergist at Riley Children's Health. "We suspect it's a combination of air pollution plus also some of the typical pollen allergies that are also circulating at this time."

Vitalpur said he's been seeing more young patients suffering with asthma and allergies in recent days since the wildfire smoke started impacting the Indianapolis area.

"I think the smoke is involved," he said.

Smoke from massive fires burning long stretches of Canadian forests are bringing hazy, gray skies to the Great Lakes area and other Midwestern states, the Associated Press reported.

Small particulates in the smoke can irritate the eyes, nose and throat and make it difficult to breathe.

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management on Tuesday issued an Air Quality Action Day for Tuesday and Wednesday.

The air in Central Indiana is filled with high levels of "microscopic dust, soot and liquid that settles deep into the lungs and cannot be easily exhaled," IDEM said in an alert issued Tuesday. "Everyone should reduce or avoid exertion and heavy work outdoors during these conditions."

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Indianapolis should expect the air to start clearing when the winds change direction Wednesday, WRTV's Chief Meteorologist Kevin Gregory said.

But the smoke is likely to return.

"Until the fires go out we're going to be at the whim of the winds," Gregory said.

IDEM is reminding Hoosiers that it is generally illegal to burn trash and open burning is often prohibited in many communities. IDEM is also encouraging folks to help improve the air quality by:

  • Carpooling or using public transportation.
  • Avoiding drive-through and combining errands into one trip.
  • Turning off engines instead of idling for long periods of time.
  • Avoiding using gas-powered equipment.
  • Conserving energy by turning off lights and setting the air conditioner to a higher setting; and
  • Using propane gas instead of charcoal when grilling outdoors.

Contact WRTV reporter Vic Ryckaert at or on Twitter: @vicryc.