Saharan dust makes sunsets pretty, but there’s a dark side

Published: Jun. 29, 2020 at 4:41 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) – Health officials urge residents of the region, especially those with lung conditions, to protect themselves as a Saharan dust cloud continues to move over us.

Strong, warm winds over the Sahara Desert typically kick up sand at this time of year and carry it thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean. This year, the dust is more dense than it’s been in 50-60 years.

And while it’s causing beautiful sunsets in Georgia, South Carolina and other parts of the region, it can aggravate health problems as it lingers for the next few days.

The dust can cause eye, nose and throat irritation. It can also cause wheezing in people with allergies or asthma.

The Georgia Department of Public Health says the best advice is to limit exposure to the dust and take these precautions to protect your health:

  • If it appears hazy or dusty outside, limit outdoor activities such as yard work, exercise, children playing.
  • Wear a face mask outside to keep dust particles out of the nose and mouth. As a bonus, this will also help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
  • Pay attention to local air quality reports and news coverage related to the dust plume.
  • Keep indoor air as clean as possible. Keep windows and doors closed. Run an air conditioner if you have one, but keep the fresh-air intake closed.
  • Follow the advice of your doctor or other health care provider about medicines and condition management if you have asthma or another lung condition.
  • If you experience a medical emergency, call 911.

Copyright 2020 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.

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