Could Monday’s smoky sky pose potential health risks?

Smokey Skies

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) -Monday evening you may have noticed heavy smoke in several areas of Southwest Louisiana.

Officials confirmed the hazy skies were a result of a marsh fire that started in Cameron Parish on Monkey Island.

Coupled with gusty winds and a change in the weather pattern, experts say that’s what caused the smoke to travel as far and wide as it did.

Bradley Pousson, an associate extension agent at the LSU Ag Center said when it comes to Monday’s marsh fire, all fingers point to mother nature.

“You can look at it as a learning tool and understand that there’s no controlling mother nature," said Pousson.

In fact, KPLC viewers in Calcasieu Parish smelled that smoke, some even expressed concerns about loved ones with breathing problems.

“Whenever smoke goes up, it goes up in the atmosphere and just gets pushed really, really far fast, which is why it ended up 20 miles north," Poussan said.

Dr. John Burton, an ER Physician with Christus Oschner St. Patrick said that there can be consequences when it comes to the amount of smoke exposure we intake from natural fires.

“The worst effects would be on someone that already has asthma or COPD or lung cancer and that would cause it to become worse,” Burton said. “Whereas, they may be fine until they start smelling the smoke and then it could cause coughing, watery eyes and just make their symptoms a lot worse.”

However, he said there are some preventative measures patients can take.

“A mask would help but that’s not 100 percent," said Burton. "Just make sure you have your medications are available at all times...inhalers, nebulizers, etc... so you can treat your symptoms as they come up and then just be ready if it gets a lot worse to go to an emergency room or your family doctor as needed, but it definitely can flare up your symptoms.”

Although Monday’s marsh fire was not intentionally set, Poussan said it serves as a valuable learning tool for residents and landowners as to how wind patterns can have a major effect on farming practices, such as crop burning.

Something that most of us in Southwest Louisiana will begin to see more of during the winter months.

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