Yet another wave of Saharan dust is here – the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service has advised of the return of the pesky visitor from across the Atlantic. Dust concentration levels are expected to gradually increase and peak between February 20th and 23rd.
The Saharan Air Layer is an extremely hot, dry and dust-laden layer of air that originates over the Sahara Desert of North Africa. It emanates from strong winds over the desert which pull sand and dust particles into the atmosphere. Once it is lifted from the ground by these strong winds, clouds of dust can reach very high altitudes and be transported worldwide, covering thousands of miles.
Records show a strong cycle that suggests that dust haze is most prevalent in Trinidad and Tobago during June to August and continues to a lesser extent during December to February.
The Ministry of Health (MoH) advises that 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 exacerbate illness in persons at high risk of respiratory complications, including persons with asthma, or heart disease, the elderly and children.
Persons who fall within these at-risk categories should exercise extra precaution during significant dust events. The following tips can help reduce the effects of the Saharan dust:
- Keep windows and doors closed when indoors
- Wear a dust mask when necessary.
- Drink lots of water and fluids.
- Wash curtains, bed linens and mats regularly to prevent dust build-up.
- Use eye drops to keep eyes moist.
- Keep relevant medication handy such as asthma inhalers, sinus medication, pain relievers etc.
If you or your family members are severely affected by the presence of Saharan dust, it is advisable to consult with your doctor to ensure that everything necessary is being done to be protected adequately from dusty conditions.