Fires cause bad air quality, problems for people with respirator - FOX Carolina 21

Fires cause bad air quality, problems for people with respiratory conditions

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Air quality in Greenville and surrounding area continues to deteriorate as fires rage in the mountains (FOX Carolina) Air quality in Greenville and surrounding area continues to deteriorate as fires rage in the mountains (FOX Carolina)
Mary and William David Hylton see Dr. Emmanuel Sarmiento about their breathing problems in the wake of hazy and smoky air conditions (FOX Carolina) Mary and William David Hylton see Dr. Emmanuel Sarmiento about their breathing problems in the wake of hazy and smoky air conditions (FOX Carolina)
Crews are working around the clock to stifle the fires, now raging in several Upstate and western North Carolina counties (FOX Carolina) Crews are working around the clock to stifle the fires, now raging in several Upstate and western North Carolina counties (FOX Carolina)
GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) -

As crews work around the clock to put out several wildfires in the mountainous areas of the Upstate and western North Carolina, another problem is flaring up for people with existing respiratory issues. 

Both Mary and William David Hylton said they were having trouble breathing because of the smoky and hazy conditions throughout the Upstate. 

"I'm feeling a bit asthmatic this morning," said Mary Hylton. "Recently, with the smoke in the area, my breathing has been terrible."

For her husband, who has chronic bronchitis, it has been worse.

"I didn't know what was happening here in the last two to three weeks," he said as he described how his breathing had deteriorated and his coughing had worsened. "The doctors seem to think the smoke had a lot to do with triggering it."

Dr. Emmanuel Sarmiento, an allergist with Allergic Disease and Asthma Center in Greenville, said he is concerned about people like the Hyltons - those who suffer from pre-existing respiratory conditions in the midst of these smoky and hazy air conditions. 

"If they have COPD, emphysema, bronchitis, congestive heart failure, asthma - they are very susceptible," said Dr. Sarmiento. "So it is better for them to stay indoors."

Sarmiento also recommends people keep their thermostat in their home set at 68 degrees; he said the cooler air helps curb the effects of the hazy conditions. Beth Brotherton, spokeswoman for Greenville County Schools, said the district has been in talks with the National Weather Service and the Department of Health and Environmental Control about how best to handle the deteriorating air quality, pertaining to the safety of school children. She said recess in some classrooms is being held inside instead of outside.

"Being outdoors in this kind of air quality can trigger a lot of things, particularly in little bodies," said Brotherton. "We are just asking teachers to be more cautious if  they take their children outside, and potentially limit the amount of time that they stay outdoors."

She also added several principals have said they are cutting off fresh air returns inside school buildings in an effort to bring as little smoke and smoke smell into the structures. 

Doctors also said people masks typically worn to block germs from spreading will not help in situations like this, and the best practice is to just stay indoors if you suffer from respiratory illness. 

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