CARPHA advises action be taken to avoid harmful effects of Saharan dust

The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) is urging persons to protect themselves against the adverse health effects of a Saharan dust plume, which has covered many parts of the Caribbean.
The Caribbean Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH), in a ‘dust bulletin’ issued on Friday, 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).
CARPHA Executive Director Dr Joy St John explained, “Saharan dust worsens air quality and increases the levels of particulate matter in the air. This can be hazardous, especially to small children, older adults, and people with underlying lung conditions and chronic cardiopulmonary diseases”.
She added, “Saharan dust can also worsen the health symptoms of those who suffer from asthma, allergies, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)”.
In light of the poor air quality levels, CARPHA is encouraging persons to take steps to avoid the harmful effects of Saharan dust. Such steps include staying indoors as much as possible; and when outdoors, wearing a dust mask (e.g. KN95).
The agency also advises utilising 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 them as prescribed. At the first sign of difficulty while breathing, persons should seek professional medical advice immediately; and for less severe symptoms, standard allergy medications such as antihistamines and steroid nasal sprays may alleviate symptoms.