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CARPHA Warns Of Harmful Effects Of Saharan Dust


The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has urged people to protect themselves against the adverse health effects of a Saharan dust plume covering many parts of the Caribbean.

A CARPHA release noted that the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH), in a Dust Bulletin dated February 9th, 2024, stated, “it is highly likely that particulate matter levels will be above the 24-hour outdoor air quality guidelines” as established by the World Health Organization (WHO).

“Saharan dust worsens air quality and increases the levels of particulate matter in the air,” observed Dr. Joy St John, Executive Director, CARPHA.

St. John explained that this could be hazardous, especially to small children, older adults, and people with underlying lung conditions and chronic cardiopulmonary diseases.

She added that dust can also worsen the health symptoms of those who have asthma, allergies, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Due to the poor air quality, CARPHA encourages people to protect themselves from Saharan dust.

The orgenisation’s release said the protective measures people could take include the following:

• Stay indoors as much as possible protect, and when outdoors, wear a dust mask (eg. KN95)
• Utilise a HEPA filter indoors to purify air in individual rooms
• Persons who use medications for pulmonary conditions should carry them at all times and use thems as prescribed
• At the first sign of difficulty while breathing, seek professional medical advice immediately
• For less severe symptoms, standard allergy medications such as antihistamines and steroid nasal sprays may alleviate symptoms

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