Thursday 9 July, 2020

Pictured: Layer of Saharan dust blankets T&T

Image via Facebook, The Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service.

Image via Facebook, The Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service.

Air quality in Trinidad and Tobago on Sunday reached unhealthy levels as a strong concentration of Saharan dust-covered Trinidad and Tobago.

The Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service (Met Office) has advised that current concentration is associated with a thick plume of Saharan dust making its way across the Caribbean Islands.

The Met Office in an update on Sunday morning advised that the Northern Range was not visible. The lowest visibility recorded was 700 metres in severe dust haze at 7 am. Similar conditions are also being experienced in Tobago, with the lowest visibility recorded so far of 5000 metres.

Layer of Saharan dust blankets T&T

While the peak of this dust event was today, these conditions are expected to persist for the week ahead – until at least Friday.

Those who are sensitive to this change in air quality are strongly advised to take the necessary precautions. 

At unhealthy levels, there is an increased aggravation of respiratory symptoms in sensitive groups including older adults, children, and people with respiratory ailments and allergies; increased aggravation of heart or lung disease and premature mortality in people with heart or lung disease; increased respiratory effects in general population.

Protective measures include: covering the nose and mouth when outdoors; protecting eyes using sunglasses when outdoors; and keeping inhalers and allergy medication on hand.

Saharan dust is a mixture of sand and dust from the Sahara, the vast desert area that covers most of North Africa.

Saharan dust may contain various particles that can produce symptoms such as a dry cough, sore throat, itchy, watery eyes, sneezing and runny nose.

High levels of Saharan dust may worsen illness in persons at high risk of respiratory complications including those with pre-existing lung such as asthma disease, those with pre-existing heart disease, the elderly and children.

Citizens can monitor the air quality here: 

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