Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control issued a code orange air quality alert Tuesday for the Midlands.
Smoke from fires in the southern Appalachian Mountains has produced a smoky haze that has been hovering over us, camouflaging the colors of fall across the Midlands.
"It's annoying and it smells really weird," said Alexis Washington, a USC student. Washington was not the only student bothered by the smoke. "It's pretty aggravating. It kind of makes everything a little bit cloudier," said Jessica Pelfrey.
The smoke smothering the Midlands may be more than just a nuisance to some of us according to Dr. Gil Potter of DHEC.
Potter said, "It's a risk to particularly young lungs, our children who may be out, pets as well, who may have smaller lungs, the elderly who may have more respiratory problems from cardiac disease or lung disease and it puts them at risk."
Potter said one of the symptoms of too much exposure to smoke is difficulty breathing, but there are others.
He said, "The signs would be irritation particularly of eyes, nose, throat. Those are the things that usually you'll see people having difficulties with in this kind of weather."
If you are or you care for someone one of those sensitive groups. Potter has some advice to help you stay safe and healthy.
He said, "Stay indoors as much as possible. Keep your indoor air as clean as possible by closing the windows and closing the doors."
"If you have an air conditioner that is taking air in from the outside, you may close those valves and shutters that will keep the air inside and recirculate the indoor air," said Potter.
The smoke from the wildfires is expected to continue to reduce visibility here in the Midlands through at least tomorrow night and possibly through Thursday.