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Chicago air, a mix of mold and smoke

CHICAGO, Sept. 13 (UPI) -- An allergist is warning people with allergies in the Chicago area to stay indoors and use air conditioning because of mold and smoke in the air.

Dr. Joseph Leija, who performs the official allergy count for the Midwest from Loyola's Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, says smoke clouds that resemble San Francisco fog are rolling into Chicago from a Minnesota forest fire.

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"The smoke will further aggravate respiratory systems, whether you suffer from allergies or asthma, or are normally healthy," Leija said in a statement. "Everyone should try to avoid breathing the contaminated air, stay indoors and use the air conditioning to act as a filter."

Clouds of smoke and pollution are visible from the rooftop of Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, where Leija maintains his pollen-catching machine used to perform the daily official allergy count for the Midwest.

"I can see the rings of dark pollution on my slides, and that, coupled with the dangerously high mold count, is creating a real breathing problem for Chicagoans today," Leija said.

This is the third time a high mold alert has been declared during this year's allergy reporting season, Leija said.

"Scratchy throats, headaches, sinus congestion, runny noses and fatigue will be common complaints among Chicagoans due to the smoke and also the mold count," Leija said.

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