CARPHA Issues Health Advisory on Saharan Dust Plume in the Caribbean

Africandustnpp Friday
Satellite view of Sahara dust plume crossing the Atlantic.

The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), based in Trinidad, has issued an urgent health advisory to residents across the Caribbean in response to a Saharan dust plume currently affecting the region. The advisory comes following a Dust Bulletin from the Barbados-based Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH), which highlighted the likelihood of particulate matter levels surpassing the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 24-hour outdoor air quality guidelines.

CARPHA’s Executive Director, Dr. Joy St John, emphasized the negative impact of Saharan dust on air quality and the potential health risks associated with increased levels of particulate matter in the air. “Saharan dust worsens air quality and increases the levels of particulate matter in the air,” Dr. St John warned, noting the particular risk to vulnerable groups such as small children, older adults, and individuals with pre-existing lung conditions and chronic cardiopulmonary diseases.

Individuals suffering from asthma, allergies, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) may experience worsened health symptoms due to the dust. To mitigate the adverse health effects of the Saharan dust, CARPHA encourages the public to take precautionary measures. These include staying indoors as much as possible and wearing dust masks when outside. Additionally, the use of HEPA filters indoors to purify air in individual rooms is recommended.

For those with pulmonary conditions, CARPHA advises always carrying and using prescribed medications. The agency also suggests that individuals experiencing difficulty breathing should seek professional medical advice immediately. For less severe symptoms, standard allergy medications such as antihistamines and steroid nasal sprays may provide relief.

The Saharan dust plume, a common atmospheric phenomenon that transports dust particles across the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean, poses recurring health and environmental challenges. CARPHA’s advisory aims to raise awareness and promote actions that individuals can take to protect themselves from the potential health impacts of this natural event.

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