Monday 24 February, 2020

Saharan dust increase expected from Thursday

Photo via Facebook, The Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service (Met Office).

Photo via Facebook, The Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service (Met Office).

The dust – the Saharan dust, that is – is coming.

The Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service (Met Office) advised that the country is expected to experience the first significant dust event for 2020, which may last at least five days.

The Met Office in a brief post on Facebook on Tuesday advised that a significant event is expected from Thursday and is likely to last for up to a week.

Further, the Met Office said the peak of the event is likely to be on Friday, and it is possible for this event to be the first significant one for 2020.

While the event is expected to begin on Thursday, the Met Office advised that more sensitive people may be affected from as early Wednesday, since a mild concentration of dust will be present.

Those so affected can expect itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, runny nose, dry cough and a sore throat to be brought on by the dust increase.

Saharan dust may contain various particles that can produce these symptoms.

The dust can be particularly problematic for those with pre-existing respiratory and cardiac issues and exacerbate illness in persons at high risk of complications.

People with pre-existing lung such as asthma disease, pre-existing heart disease, the elderly, children are vulnerable and at risk for complications associated with an increased presence of dust in the atmosphere.

The Health Ministry says those with pre-existing conditions should stay indoors, when possible, and should have their rescue inhaler with them at all times.

Those affected by the dust are advised to seek medical attention if they experience difficulty breathing, a fever lasting for more than two to three days or a severe worsening of a pre-existing condition.

Air quality levels can be monitored using the air quality index from the Environmental Management Authority (EMA).

The air quality index is used by government agencies to communicate to the public how polluted the air is or how polluted it is forecast to become.

As the AQI increases, an increasingly large percentage of the population is likely to experience increasingly severe adverse health effects.

According to readings from the EMA’s Point Lisas monitor station, levels are currently moderate in Central Trinidad. This reading means that respiratory symptoms are possible in unusually sensitive individuals, and possible aggravation of heart or lung disease in people with cardiopulmonary disease and older adults.

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