INDIANAPOLIS — Over the last day or two you may have noticed a smog over Indianapolis or even a burning smell. While the weather might seem nice, smoke from Canadian wildfires has drifted 1,000 miles to linger over Indianapolis.
“I noticed that it looked smoggy, effectively smoggy, but it had that distinct smell of smoke,” said Gabriel Filippelli, the director of the Indiana University Environmental Resilience Institute.
Weather Authority Meteorologist Krista McEnany said it’s not uncommon for the Indy atmosphere to see wildfire smoke.
”It’s lofted into the upper levels of the atmosphere and then it’s carried here by the current of those winds,” she said.
We talked to people out and about Tuesday in Broad Ripple Park. Andrew Boyer was there with his son and dog, and he said he hadn’t heard about the smoke till he talked with us.
”I’m looking around, looking at the trees and it is a little hazy out,” Boyer said.
Vickie Mallers was at the playground with her two young grandchildren. She said the conditions had already caught her eye.
”I noticed there was a lot of smog up there,” Mallers said.
But just how harmful is this smog?
Filippelli measures air quality in Indy and across the country.
”The entire Midwest and East Coast was blanketed with this really smoky, polluted air,” he said.
Normally, Filippelli said air quality can become unhealthy for sensitive groups, like the elderly, young people or people with pre-existing conditions. On Monday, it was unhealthy for everyone.
“Think of a traffic light. Green is pretty good, yellow is some caution and red and purple are the bad signs,” he said. “Red everywhere throughout Indianapolis, on all my sensors.
Filippelli has 30 air sensors all around Indianapolis. He even has one at his home. He’s able to monitor the air quality across the city right from his laptop.
By the time we sat down on his front porch for an interview Tuesday afternoon, the air quality had already improved.
”We are breathing in air that is dangerous for members of sensitive groups,” Filippelli said. “This had improved from air that was unhealthy for everyone on Monday.”
When air quality does meet that red level, Filippelli said people should try and stay in air conditioning and avoid exercising.
”Do not exercise in one of these events, because that just increases the amount of smoke material in your lungs,” Filippelli said.
The good news, the air will get better soon.
”As we get through a cold front that is going to pass through tonight and tomorrow it’s actually going to sweep that out of the area,” McEnany said.
If you want to keep an eye on the air quality around Indy and the country, the website Filippelli uses is Purple Air.