This article was originally published by WBRC and has since been syndicated to other media outlets.

Many people in Birmingham saw the thick haze outside and felt like it was harder to breathe on Monday, July 17.

Birmingham’s air quality was listed as “Unhealthy” Monday evening, according to the EPA’s air quality tracker AirNow.

A local physician says the worst pollution time in Birmingham is during the summer.

Dr. Weily Soong with Allervie Health says that a big reason is because Birmingham is in a valley. He explained that with the city’s location, different pollutants can get trapped. Dr. Soong added that heat makes the air quality even worse. The Canadian wildfires add an entirely different component.

Put it all together and we see that intense haze.

Much of Central Alabama remained in the orange category, which is “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” but Birmingham made it all the way to red: “unhealthy for some in the general public.”

Dr. Soong said there are steps you can take to protect your lungs.

“Definitely, if you are on any lung medications, you should be taking your medications especially controller, asthma, or emphysema medicines,” he explains. “Probably limit your outdoor activities. You can always wear a mask if you have to go outside.”

Dr. Soong added that if you are reacting to the air outside, it’s a good idea to invest in an air purifier for your home. If you already have one, he recommends keeping it on for now.