Experts say Indy's poor air quality contributes to health issues – WRTV Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis resident Shauntee Luster has trouble breathing doing some of life’s most basic tasks.
“I have bronchial asthma.” shared Luster.
According to the Indiana Health Department of Health and the American Lung Association, Luster is one of over a million Hoosiers who struggle with some kind of respiratory issue, like COPD or asthma.
Experts say complications with those illnesses are multiplied in poor air quality.
“The air quality here in Indy, it gives me a lot of trouble,” said Luster.
Each year, the EPA releases the Air Quality Index based off of core-based statistical area. The higher the index equates to a higher pollutant count.
The Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson area had the eleventh highest Air Quality Index median in the country.
According to EPA data, it’s the worst Air Quality Index median the city has recorded since 2019.
John Mundell is a Senior Environmental Consultant at Mundell consulting professionals. He claims the air quality issue is not new to the Indianapolis area.
“We are happy to have all kinds of manufacturing here,” shared Mundell. “They all track the amount of toxic substances they released, and they report those every year. That’s a benefit for all of us to know what we’re actually putting into the air.”
Those substances cause significant health problems for many in the Hoosier state.
Dr. Samantha Averill is a pediatric pulmonologist at IU Health. She claims particles can enter the body easily.
“The small particles are these different materials in the air, and gasses in the air that can be released into the atmosphere from things like exhaust from gasoline powered cars beamed from factories,” shared Averill.
“Many of these small particles can be filtered through our nose and through the mucous of our larger airways. But many of these early smaller smaller particles will get deeper into the airways airways, where they can cause damage and inflammation and inflammation can cause spasming or tightening of the airways.”
Averill feels there is a direct link between poor air quality and increased symptoms.
“We do see more calls into doctors when patients are having these symptoms, we can see increases in an emergency room visits and even admissions to the hospital when air quality is poor,” said Averill.
For Luster, those symptoms make it difficult to go about her daily routine.
“When you even step out of your home, the breathing. I don’t know how to put it into words, but like you’re gasping for air. It’s really hard,” she said.
Although those challenges will continue, Luster is dedicated to keep moving forward.
“I do have flare ups but I’m not going to let it get the best to me,” explained Luster. “I’m gonna beat it.”


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