Smokey air prompts health concerns

Published: Nov. 11, 2016 at 11:43 PM EST
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News 12 NBC 26 / November 11, 2016

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- It was hard to miss today. A haze of smoke filled the sky, and the smell of smoke filled your nose and lungs. While the best option may be to stay indoors, sometimes that's just not feasible.

All you had to do was step outside.

"Noticed it was like a fog at first. That's what I thought it was," said Michael Knight.

"Very hazy. Bad visibility in the area," said Abby Halpern.

"We were wondering if it was raining. It was cloudy kind of dreary. People had wipers on," said Jordan Heimer.

Smoke that's coming from a series of wildfires. One that could be the largest in Georgia's history and drought conditions are making matters even worse.

"I mean, we haven't had rain here in weeks," said Heimer.

"You can tell the river in Clarks Hill is down. You can definitely tell all that's down ," said Knight.

And after a recent shift in the wind, we're seeing and smelling it here.

This is the first time I've noticed this," said Dr. Clark McDonough, Assistant Professor of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at AU, "And if you look outside, I mean, there's a thick blue haze that's laying over all of the area."

And there's larger number of people coming to Dr. McDonough's clinic because of it. Health effect like more coughing, shortness of breath, or tingling in the back of the throat.

"Even normal people are going to feel the effects of this," said Dr. McDonough.

"It's a little bit of a burning feeling in my throat. Kind of subtle at first, but I think it's continued on for the past couple of days since Wednesday," Halpern.

But the problems are even more concerning for people with asthma.

"They're having persistent symptoms despite some of the inhalers," explained Dr. McDonough, "The inhalers and the steroids that they're using. A lot of folks are having those symptoms, well and sick."

Symptoms of a problem that change with the wind.