Smoke in the air causing breathing problems for people in the Lowcountry

Wildfires are still burning across the southeast and we are seeing the effects here with smoke in the air. We sent News 2’s Ashley Yost to speak with allergy specialist Dr. Meredith Moore about what you can do to manage your symptoms.

Dr. Moore said, the obvious way to avoid the smoke is to stay inside. If you are an outdoor runner, head to the gym instead. This is not the time to be out raking leaves or cutting your grass. Save that “Honey-Do” list for a day when the air quality is better. When you are inside, close your windows and make sure your air conditioning is on. Use the re-circulation mode for the AC in your car so that you are not sucking in that outside air.

On a normal day, Dr. Moore says our air quality in the Lowcountry is pretty good with the particle count at around 30-40. However, last week we were in the 100s and some days the particle count got into the high 100s. “[Those numbers] are definitely unhealthy for everybody and not just people who are sensitive,” said Dr. Moore.

The particles floating around in the air are tiny. “The particulate matter 2.5, which has been so high is actually smaller than 1/30th of the width of a strand of hair.”

Those who are most likely to experience the effects of the smoke are children, older adults and those with lung and heart problems.

“Those who are most susceptible to having problems from the pollution are children and teenagers,” explains Dr. Moore, “because they actually breathe more per size of their body so they’re going to take in more of the pollutants. Older adults because they have more chronic conditions. Then of course, anybody with chronic lung disease, like asthma or COPD, or cardiovascular disease. If they are at risk for stroke or heart attack, then that can be more problematic with the pollution.”

The smoke is one factor of many that could be triggering your allergies. Dr. Moore explained that we are coming off of rag weed season. “Once people’s allergies get going, even though the rag weed levels and the other weed levels are coming down, it may take weeks for everybody’s allergies to calm down if you’re susceptible to those.”

She said, we are also coming off of the back-to-school cold season also. Those factors make the exposure to the smoke more problematic than if it happened at another part of the year.

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