PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -

 Paul Maynard went to see Dr. Ziad Tannous for a routine check-up, but he would have come anyway.

"I've been having trouble breathing the last few days especially," Maynard said. 

With ash falling like snow in the desert, many people are at risk.

"Those who do have chronic lung problems like asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, recovering from pneumonia, all that can be worsened by smoke inhalation," Dr. Ziad Tannous from Desert Regional Medical Center said. 

Smoke contains harmful gases and fine particles that can irritate your lungs. When you breathe smokey air, you inhale carbon dioxide (co2) and carbon monoxide (co) and gases like formaldehyde, depending on what's burning. 

"When I get in my car, until the air conditioning kicks in and the recirculation. I have trouble breathing. It's significantly different," Maynard said. 

He isn't alone. 

"I just grabbed a t-shirt or whatever I could find, wrapped it around my face, and said this is fine. It's better than walking around with nothing over me," Manuel Navarro said. 

"Stay indoors in an air conditioned environment. Minimize the outdoor activity unless you absolutely have to," Dr. Tannous said.

Even just a short walk from your car to the grocery store can pose a threat to your health.

"The more severe the respiratory problems you have, the more likelihood you get exacerbation, even from quick exposure," Dr. Tannous said.