Smoky air leads to health problems, ER visits

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SALT LAKE CITY — Nearly every county in Utah hit red or orange air quality levels Friday - well above the federal health standard.

With the lingering smoke getting worse, hospitals are now seeing the effects it's having on people.

“I kept thinking it's going to get better, it's going to get better and it just doesn't,” said Dennis Marshal.

For at least three weeks Marshal has suffered from a cruel cough.

“I’ve been at the end of my rope for a while,” Marshal said.

But he didn't think much of it until he was getting a cat scan for his liver cancer. Marshal's doctor noticed the cough and told him to go to the ER right away.

“Oh, yeah. It hurts all the way down. It hurts my side and I get headaches now because I’ve coughed so much,” Marshal said.

He's now being tested for bronchitis.

“[The air is] the worst I’ve ever seen it. I don't believe I've ever seen smoke like this in this valley ever,” Marshal said.

On Friday, many counties across the state hit the red and orange levels for particulate matter and ozone. This is like having our winter and summer inversions at the same time and it's unhealthy for everyone.

“This summer has really been exceptional with the wildfires and the air pollution people are really struggling to breathe,” said Dr. Denitza Blagev, Pulmonologist Intermountain Medical Center

Doctors are seeing a spike in patients because they can't escape the smoky, smoggy air.

“Unfortunately, the thing is to stay indoors. For most of us, the air in your home only has less than half of the pollution outdoors,” Dr. Blagev said.

At this point it's unhealthy for everyone, especially for people with underlying lung problems. Doctors say it's important to keep a close eye on kids.

“These might not be the days to have sports practice outdoors,” Dr. Blagev said.

Spanish Fork High canceled their football scrimmage Friday.

This bad air is affecting everyone - young and old - but everyone is hoping for the same thing.

“Oh, I can't hardly wait to see blue sky - especially over the mountains because then I know the valley is empty and I can't hardly wait,” Marshal said.

Unfortunately, that's not coming anytime soon.

Officials with the Utah Departmen of Environmental Quality say smoke from Coal Hollow fire in Sanpete County will merge with smoke from California so experts say it's best to stay indoors this weekend.

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