AUSTIN (KXAN) — Smoke has been billowing from the sky as Central Texas firefighters work to contain wildfires, making it hard for some people to breathe.

“Wildfire smoke is a large contributor to air pollution, to those small particles that are in the air,” said Dr. Nikki Vars McCullough a Respiratory Protection Expert with 3M.

“You really want to be paying attention to the air quality index. That is a number that you’ll see often reported by the Environmental Protection Agency telling you how healthy or unhealthy the air is.”

If the air quality index is high, consider taking measures. “The larger the number the less healthy the air is for you,” said Dr. McCullough.

“You should start really paying attention to keeping your indoor air quality good, even if it doesn’t look smokey.”

She suggests, “first of all, closing your doors and windows to make sure that you aren’t getting more outdoor air pollution inside of your home.”

Also, using a high efficiency filtrete filter with a high rating in your home and limiting cooking, vacuuming or burning candles.

All of which Dr. McCullough said will help with smoke from wildfires and other contributors, “other sources can be dust, and dirt from roads and fields, emissions from factories and vehicles.”

If you need to be outside when the air quality is unhealthy, Dr. McCollough’s advises, “ you might want to consider something like an N95 respirator. People who work outside may need to use respirators if they’re going to be out in air pollution for a long time or if family members need to be outside and can’t stay indoors.”