Saharan dust affects quality of air in Caribbean, brings severe respiratory challenges 

CARPHA noted an increase in Saharan Dust, which is currently affecting the quality of the air on the island. As a result, many people are complaining about the respiratory issues. 

CARPHA issued alert on increasing of Saharan Dust. (Credits: Good Morning Saint Lucia - Vibes at Sunrise, Facebook)
CARPHA issued alert on increasing of Saharan Dust. (Credits: Good Morning Saint Lucia - Vibes at Sunrise, Facebook)

The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) noted an increase in the levels of Saharan Dust in the air, which is currently affecting the quality of the air on the island. As a result, many people are complaining about the respiratory issues. 

They urged the public to exercise necessary precautions against adverse health effects of the Saharan Dust plume. It is to be noted that many Caribbean regions are suffering from the dust, which affects their health. 

The Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) stated, “It is highly likely that particulate matter levels will be above the 24-hour outdoor air quality guideline”, as established by the World Health Organization (WHO).

According to the CARPHA Executive Director Dr Joy St John, Saharan dust degrades air quality and increases levels of particulate matter in the air. Therefore, it can be very dangerous for young children and people of the old age groups. 

People with underlying lung conditions and chronic cardiopulmonary diseases are at high risk. The authorities urged and advised those who are suffering from asthma, allergies and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. 

CARPHA has introduced some measures which will help people avoid the harmful effects of the Saharan dust

– People are suggested to stay at their homes as much as possible, and when going outside, one must wear face masks or dust mask

– One should utilise a HEPA filter indoors, i.e., in homes, schools and workplaces, to purify air in every room

– Persons who use medications for pulmonary conditions should carry them at all times and use them as prescribed

– One must seek professional medical advice immediately when they find the first sign of difficulty while breathing

– If one feels a foreign body sensation in the eyes, wash them with plenty of water. It is preferable to use potable, boiled or chlorinated water. Wash your hands before starting the procedure

– Cover water sources such as wells, containers or water storage ponds to avoid contamination

– Use personal protective equipment such as goggles, a mouthpiece or a damp cloth handkerchief to cover the nose and mouth

Although this is not a problem for most people, when dust reaches high concentrations, it can contribute to problems with air quality. 

And its effect is to cause potential problems for people with lung problems, young children or those with asthma.

Further, CARPHA observed that the patients suffering from respiratory problems are especially those with asthma, sinus problems, allergies and those with or recovering from the flu. 

Therefore, they advised citizens to keep antihistamines and steroid nasal sprays with themselves in case of standard allergy medications for less severe symptoms. 

Additionally, people took to their Facebook handles to share their concerns regarding the burst of Saharan Dust in their regions. 

While reacting to the news, a person named Ree Ree commented, “I’m located in the northern range, and it’s terrible. It’s so thick, I can’t function fully with this Sahara. Inhalers hardly works atm.”

Another person by name of Tim Mangal wrote, “It bad. Feeling concerned for people with respiratory challenges.”