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Crop Burning Smoke Causing Problems for Those With, Without Allergies

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HARLINGEN – If you're suffering from allergies, listen up! The culprit can be linked to agriculture burning happening in Mexico and Central America.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality reports a moderate air-quality for the Rio Grande Valley for the rest of the week.

"It doesn't really make me sick. It just makes you grouchy," said Linda Butcher from Harlingen.

Butcher says she enjoys nature and volunteering at local parks. However, her allergies are making it difficult to be outdoors.

"Pollen, dust and smoke, really anything that floats in the air," said Butcher when she asked what she is sensitive to.

Right now, smoke from agriculture burning is making its way to the Valley.

"Smoke from any source including the typical Uncle Joe's barbecue or anything can be a problem," said Dr. William McKenna, an allergist in Harlingen.

He explained how exactly this smoke impacts a person.

"Low exposures over a long period of time, hours, day if you’re outside," said Dr. McKenna. “What those effects can have are different depending on what conditions people have.”

Dr. McKenna said even people who don't have asthma or other similar conditions can still feel some symptoms of the smoke.

"Irritated eyes, sneezing, irritated throat or coughing," he said.

It's not just smoke which causes problems for people this time of the year. Dr. McKenna said with the breezy winds during the spring other stuff like pollen, car exhaust and even dirt can get picked up by the wind.

"All this combined just can have an additive stack on top type of a situation, which can make matters worse," he said.

Dr. McKenna recommends people limit their time outdoors if they are having trouble handling the symptoms. He recommends staying in a place with filtered air.

He said the closer we get to summer the more the winds begin to die down, and this is when those who suffer from allergies will begin to see a little bit more relief when outdoors.

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