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IDEM: Indiana air quality back to healthy level

INDOT workers prepare to replace a bridge on U.S. 33, under sunshine and clouds. Over the past few weeks, outdoor work of various kinds slowed amid concerns about air quality caused by Canadian wildfires.
Rebecca Green
/
WBOI News
INDOT workers prepare to replace a bridge on U.S. 33, under sunshine and clouds. Over the past few weeks, outdoor work of various kinds slowed amid concerns about air quality caused by Canadian wildfires.

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management said Wednesday the air quality in Indiana is back to a healthy level. Therefore, it is no longer recommending Hoosiers limit their time outdoors.

Mark Derf is the section chief of the technical support and modeling section for IDEM’s Office of Air Quality. He said new airflow over Indiana is pushing the smoke to the Northeastern United States.

“That airflow is pushing that more to the northeast away from Indiana,” Derf said. “So, for the time being, our air patterns are such that we’re in better shape.”

Derf said the recent wet weather in Indiana has helped the lower level smoke dissipate.

This most recent smoke exposure in Indiana was the second time smoke from Canadian wildfires settled over Indiana. The first time did not bring with it as many harmful particles in the air. Derf said that’s because the number of fires has increased.

“Those are huge fires. I’ve heard there’s 200 to 400 fires in that area,” Derf said. “The smoke from that has just been incredible. Obviously, the Northeast, when they had straight north winds, had similar air quality issues that we saw last week.”

Derf said the threat of poor air quality will linger as long as those fires burn. He said the winds could shift to create the same conditions that trapped the smoke in Indiana last week. He does not know when that would happen, but he said it could happen later this summer if the fires continue to burn for that long.

Tony Sandleben joined the WBOI News team in September of 2022.