Saharan Dust Plume Reducing Air Quality And Visibility Across Federation

Basseterre, St. Kitts, May 18, 2020 (ZIZ News)

By: Chaïra Flanders

The Saharan dust plume is currently reducing air quality an visibility across the federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.

Hazy conditions can be seen all across the island as the dust continues to travel across the region.

In a press statement issued by the Antigua and Barbuda Meteorological services on Monday morning, the air quality index (AQI) remains at unhealthy levels for sensitive groups, as a result of particulate matters associated with a surge of Saharan Dust, streaming across the area. This reduced air quality will keep the risks of health problems elevated, for mainly sensitive people, such as asthmatics. There is the potential for the AQI to return to unhealthy levels for all and not just the sensitive groups indicated.

Sensitive groups include persons with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly and children. These are persons most at risk.

According to the statement, the current air quality is increasing likelihood of respiratory symptoms in sensitive individuals, aggravation of heart or lung disease and premature mortality in persons with cardiopulmonary disease and the elderly.

The active children and adults or persons with heart or respiratory disease, such as asthma, should limit time outdoors and restrict outdoor activity.

Home owners are also asked to keep windows and doors closed, as much as possible, and wear a face mask when going outside.

According to SCASPA’S Senior Met Officer, Elmo Burke, between March and September each year, a mass of dust or the Saharan Air Layer (SAL) forms over the desert eventually moving westward across the Northern Atlantic, every three to five days. The Saharan Air Layer can extend 5,000 to 20,000 feet into the atmosphere, and be transported several thousand miles when winds are particularly strong.

The Saharan Air Layer is expected to ease to moderate levels by Tuesday.

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