How to protect your health as chemical fire burns in Deer Park

DEER PARK, Texas – The massive fire that feels like it has been burning forever, continues to rage in Deer Park, filling the sky with thick, black smoke.

For the millions of us living under that gigantic plume there is tremendous anxiety.

We wonder could that foreboding cloud be damaging our lungs?

Harris County health officials are saying there is no danger to the general public, that the air quality is within acceptable limits and poses no threat at this time.

RELATED: Which chemicals are burning in Deer Park?

But what about people who suffer from serious breathing problems already?

Channel 2 Investigates spoke to Dr. Kamran Boka at UT Health/Memorial Hermann Hospital who says those people who have serious, chronic, pulmonary issues may suffer some problems triggered by the plume of smoke, if they are close enough to it.

“With patients who have documented lung diseases, lung structural diseases and conditions, such as asthma, difficult to control allergies, emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic bronchitis. If you are seeing a lung doctor essentially, those are the patients and the people we are concerned about,” Boka said.

RELATED: Where is the smoke headed?

As far as the symptoms that people with chronic pulmonary trouble may experience, Boka said they may experience itchy, watery eyes, a scratchy throat and some shortness of breath while at rest.

Boka is a teacher of pulmonary medicine at the UT Health McGovern Medical School and also treats seriously ill patients in the Intensive Care Unit at Memorial Hermann.