How can dust from Africa harm us? - Wishevoke

How can dust from Africa harm us?

The increased concentrations of African dust and the hazardous substances it contains have already had consequences for public health. Molecular biologist Kleopatra Zoumbourli from medlab.gr informs us about the dangerous substances that can infect us and gives instructions for vulnerable groups.

Thanks to him, African dust has visited Greece and Cyprus more and more frequently in recent years Phenomenon of desertification in the Sahara. During studies by Greek and foreign scientists, they identified a whole list of dangerous heavy metals in African dust.

According to measurements carried out throughout the year in different regions of the country, the dust traveling from Africa carries toxic substances to our country, such as: lead, zinc, chromium, vanadium, arsenic and nickel, in content that no one expected would be so extensive. The issue is causing great concern in the scientific community about the impact of the transport of “toxic” African dust on human health and the environment, as African dust is now present throughout Greece and is expected to increase even more in the future.

Scientists are now giving the first explanation for the increasing dust formation in the skies of the Mediterranean countries, which is nothing other than desertification, which is one of the worst dramatic consequences of climate change. In the Sahara, desertification is progressing at an incalculable rate, expanding desert areas at the expense of arable land and increasing the amount of dust that can enter the atmosphere.

Health problems caused by dust
The increased concentrations of African dust, but also the dangerous substances it contains, have already had consequences for public health, as it has been observed that on days with high dust concentrations, hospital admissions increase with patient exposure Respiratory and heart problems. Crete saw an increase in admissions for respiratory and cardiac problems, while Athens saw an increase in hospital admissions for asthma and cardiac arrhythmias in children.

The reasons for the presence of heavy metals in natural dust from the Sahara are varied and, according to scientists, are due to this Increase in polluting activity in North African countries. In recent years there has been the bombing of Libya, which appears to have contributed to the production of dangerous pollutants. In addition, there are cities such as Cairo with severe air pollution, while vehicle traffic has increased significantly in North Africa, as well as landfills, which in many cases are incinerated, releasing dangerous pollutants into the atmosphere.

Guidelines for vulnerable groups

  • The usage mask is very important.
  • Experts from the Ministries of Environment and Health advise, among others, to avoid dust pollution.
  • In cases where concentrations exceed the safety limit, people with breathing problems, heart patients, children and people over 65 years of age should avoid all physical activity – outdoor activities.
  • It is also recommended Avoid spending time outdoors especially in areas with increased traffic.
  • People with asthma may need it more often Relief inhalations. If symptoms persist, we recommend contacting your doctor.

schools
If the amount of pollutants exceeds 150 micrograms per cubic meter of air, Operation is interrupted from public or private kindergartens, kindergartens, after-school care centers, kindergartens and primary and secondary schools. Everyone is advised to avoid any physical activity outdoors and limit time spent outdoors, especially in areas with increased traffic.

bibliography
– Saharan dust levels in Greece and inhalation doses received C. Mitsakou, G. Kallos, N. Papantoniou, C. Spyrou, S. Solomos, M. Astitha and C. Housiadas
1National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Faculty of Physics, Athens, Greece
Gerasopoulos E, P Kokkalis, V Amiridis, E Liakakou, C Perez, K Haustein, K Eleftheratos, MO Andreae, TW Andreae and CS Zerefos (2009). Mediterranean Sea using the BSC-DREAM model and solar photometer data: the case of urban environments
Meteorological patterns associated with intense Saharan dust outbreaks over Greece in winter (PT Nastos) Laboratory of Climatology and Atmospheric Environment, University of Athens, Faculty of Geology and Geoenvironment, Panepistimiopolis, 15784 Athens, Greece – Gill, AE, 1982: Atmosphere-Ocean -Dynamics. Academic Press, New York, 662 pp. – Goudie and Middleton, 2001, Saharan Dust Storms: Nature and Consequences, Earth-Science Rev., 56, 179-204. – D’Almeida, GA, 1987, Properties and effects of desert aerosols on climate, In: Paleoclimatology and palemeteorlogy: Modern and past patterns of global atmospheric transport, eds. M. Leinen and M. Sarnthein, NATO ASI Series, C, vol . 282, 311-338.

Cleopatra Zoumbourli, molecular biologist,
medlabnews.gr

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