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Air quality alert issued for several Indiana counties due to smoke from wildfires

Air Quality Action Day issued for Wednesday and Thursday
Due to the wildfires, California now has the most polluted cities in the world
Posted at 1:05 PM, Jul 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-22 08:22:16-04

INDIANAPOLIS — An air quality alert was issued for several Indiana counties on Wednesday by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management through Thursday due to smoke from wildfires in the western United States and southern Canada.

Poor air quality is expected throughout the state as IDEM forecasts high levels of fine particles, known as PM2.5, due to the fires.

PM2.5 is composed of microscopic dust, soot, and liquid that settles deep into the lungs and cannot be easily exhaled, according to IDEM. If anyone has high exposure to the particles, they become "at risk," IDEM says.

Click here to monitor the air quality in your area

The following counties with an air quality alert are listed because they have what the IDEM says is a PM2.5 air monitor, but the Air Quality Action Day is asked to be observed by all Indiana regions.

Here are the counties:

  • Central Indiana – Marion, Bartholomew, Delaware, Hamilton, Howard, Madison, Monroe
  • North Central Indiana – St. Joseph, Elkhart
  • Northeast Indiana – Allen, Whitley
  • Northwest Indiana – Lake, Porter
  • Southeast Indiana – Clark, Floyd
  • Southwest Indiana –Dubois, Spencer, Vanderburgh
  • West Central Indiana – Tippecanoe, Vigo

IDEM states that it encourages everyone to change the following daily habits to remain safe and help reduce PM2.5:

  • Reduce activity time outdoors to reduce unhealthy exposure to PM2.5 and avoid exercising near busy roads.
  • Avoid burning wood and any other unnecessary fires.
    • Reminder: Indiana’s open burning laws make it illegal to burn trash and generally prohibit open burning, visit IN.gov/openburning [lnks.gd] for more information.
  • Combine errands into one trip.
  • Avoid using gasoline-powered equipment or gas-powered recreational vehicles.
  • Keep your engine tuned, and don’t let your engine idle (e.g., at a bank or restaurant drive-thru).
  • Conserve energy by turning off lights or setting the thermostat to 75 degrees or higher.

Typically, air quality alerts are issued 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.