Monday 24 February, 2020

Saharan dust surge from Monday

Satellite image via the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service.

Satellite image via the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service.

Trinidad and Tobago is set to experience another significant Saharan dust event.

The Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service (Met Office) in a brief update on Saturday advised that concentrations are currently mild, but another significant event is likely from Monday.

And like the last significant event, while some fluctuations are expected, dust levels will remain elevated throughout the week.

Sensitive groups, including those who suffer with asthma and other respiratory ailments will be affected by the increased presence of dust in the atmosphere.

According to the Environmental Management Authority’s Air Quality Index (AQI) Tobago is already experiencing moderate levels.

The reading indicates areas of concern for “sensitive” individuals, who will be at risk for respiratory symptoms, while there is a chance of possible aggravation of heart or lung disease in people with cardiopulmonary disease and older adults.

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.

People affected by the presence of Saharan dust in the atmosphere 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 has advised that 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.

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