Smoky skies cover Siouxland: What you should know about the air quality

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — Smoke is spreading throughout Siouxland from West Coast wildfires.

According to the air quality index, a score between 151-200 means the air is unhealthy for everyone. Emmetsburg, in northwest Iowa, reported a score of 184 at 7 a.m., down from a score of 278 Thursday night, which is in the high end of the rarely used “very unhealthy” category.

Jerome Montgomery said he first noticed the smoke late last night and was alarmed by how strong it was.

“It wasn’t cigarette smoke. It’s stronger than cigarette smoke, that’s for sure,” Montgomery said. “I can’t say it was anything that was like making my eyes tear up or giving me a problem to breathe but you could tell it was a different type of smoke that was in the air.”

Dr. Jeffery O’Tool with UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s said folks with respiratory issues should take extra precautions for the next several days.

Probably the biggest concern people have is if you have some respiratory history like asthma or COPD or allergies, you may have some increased trouble with breathing when the smoke levels are high along with all the pollens and other stuff we’re dealing with right now,” O’Tool said.

Dr. O’Tool says folks who suffer from respiratory issues could also experience symptoms such as coughing or shortness of breath. Dr. O’Tool expects this smoke could linger until the fires go down, adding the best way for you to stay safe is to limit your exposure, wear a face mask, keep your windows shut and visit your doctor if you start experiencing any issues.

“Just make sure that if you’re on medications for your breathing issues, then make sure you keep up on those,” O’Tool said, “especially when we have issues like this with the high smoke.”

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