Tornado debris could be causing allergy symptoms, expert says

Have you had a constant coughing and a runny nose this summer?

If you live in an area affected by the Memorial Day tornadoes, it may not be standard allergies.

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News Center 7’s I-Team recently learned that a growing number of people living in areas hit by the tornadoes have been seeing their doctors with allergy-like symptoms.

I-Team reporter Gabrielle Enright dug deeper to see if there was a connection.

It’s been almost three months since a tornado hit Larry William’s North Dayton home.

After a lot of repairs, the house is getting better, but William and his wife are sick.

“I’m feeling kind of rough,” William said. “Getting hard to breathe; constantly trying to blow your nose. My wife, she keeps coughing her head off too.”

He said they didn’t feel that way before the tornado hit.

The I-Team heard multiple stories like William’s, so Gabrielle Enright spoke to Dr. William Parker, an allergist of more than 30 years in Beavercreek, to see if there was a connection between the tornadoes and allergy-like symptoms.

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He said that after Memorial Day, the number of his patients increased.

“With this complaint? Certainly double figures,” Parker said. “More than a dozen [people].”

Many of those clients were suffering from the same symptoms, he added.

"It's a cough. Post nasal drink. Congestion," Parker said. "It is less than the typical hay fever symptoms with itchy eyes. It's more congestion and a nagging cough."
He said those symptoms could be from the tornadoes.

“I think they continue to suffer from allergies or air quality issues as they continue to repair their homes,” Parker said.

Paul Carroll is one of the people helping make some of those repairs.

He’s a roofer and can see how the work he does can cause problems.

“If it’s straight over the top of the roofing, not much [debris], but when you get down inside the attic it can really throw some debris,” Carroll said.

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Williams said he doesn’t know if it’s dust or dirt that’s making him sick; he just wants to feel better.

If you don’t feel well, trying over the counter medication might help, Parker said. But if you still feel bad, make an appointment with your doctor to make sure you’re not suffering from an infection.

The I-Team also reached out to Public Health Dayton and Montgomery County. A spokesperson said that they have not received any reports of tornado-related illnesses.

An original version of this story reported calls to the Ohio EPA had not been returned. Since that reporting, an EPA spokesperson did return the call the this news organization late Thursday afternoon.