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Don't Forget Your Mask: Drifting Smoke Causing Health Concerns in Sacramento

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — It's been a week since the Camp Fire began and drifting smoke is bringing health concerns to the valley. Medical professionals say continued exposure to the smoke can be dangerous.

"I have asthma, so I'd rather not exacerbate that," said Jenna Tucker, who started wearing an N95 mask on Wednesday. "It doesn't feel good and it looks even worse."

"Earlier, I was catching light rail and I had to get off and walk four blocks and I felt tired, and I'm not usually like that," said Troy Wright.

People with breathing problems are typically used to protecting themselves from unhealthy air, but pulmonary specialists in Sacramento say everyone should be heeding their warnings and getting out of this smoke.

READ: 'We Are Really Going To Die Now' Crews Save Mother After C-Section Through Inferno

"Breathing everything in especially after a few days' worth, I definitely worry later down the line it can become something," said Phoenix Michele, who lives in Sacramento.

Runny noses, shortness of breath, headaches, nausea, and irritated eyes are all symptoms caused by the smoke.

"You can have a multitude of symptoms -- everyone is going to react differently," Lucero said.

Polina Murdakhayev is a pulmonary specialist with Sutter Medical Center in Sacramento who helps patients with breathing disorders. Unfortunately, their clinic is closed this week. She says it's safer this week for patients to stay at home.

"We're definitely trying to keep our patients away from here," she said.

ALSO: CalOES Sets Up Massive Operation To Provide Camp Fire Disaster Relief

Her colleague, Casey Lucero, says it's not just people with asthma and emphysema who need to worry about what it's the air.

"I've talked to many people that have seemingly no problems," Lucero said. "They've been outside for a few days and then it hits them days later."

And as the smoky days add up, everyone is at risk of persistent shortness of breath, Murdakhayev says.

"For healthy lungs, you probably tend to overcome that very fast, but I would not advise anybody to put yourself at risk that way," she said.

Her best advice remains the same: wear a mask and stay inside.

READ: PG&E Stock Plummets In Days After Camp Fire

"I didn't want to breathe in any of that negative stuff," Michele said.

Some people are heeding the warning. The typically bustling patio at MagPie was empty Wednesday night. But others like Norma Rice and her husband say they don't feel the need to wear a mask right now.

"Luckily, we're both very healthy and we play a lot of tennis," Rice said.

But 6-year-old Sydny Michele isn't taking any chances.

"When fire goes around dump sites, it brings all the chemicals up into the air!" she said.

"So you gotta to stay safe with your mask?" asked Jenkins.

"Yeah," Sydny replied.

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