The worst of the Saharan dust cloud is expected in Louisiana by Friday, posing a threat to health | Ambient

A wide column of dust made up of sand particles from the Sahara desert in Africa is still on its way to approach the Louisiana gulf coast on Wednesday, with the highest concentration likely to arrive on Friday afternoon, according to forecast models. from NASA, which could represent health. threatens coastal residents with lung problems, health officials say.

Once the chance of rain is cleared for Wednesday, the dust is likely to add a reddish tint to the color of sunsets and sunrises for a couple of days, and add a misty tint to the sky during daylight hours.

But the tiny dust particles responsible for the colorful skies can also pose a health risk to people with existing lung conditions, and can increase the risk of contracting COVID-19 or the Kawasaki-like inflammatory syndrome that COVID-19 has caused. in a small number of children, doctors warn.

There is a good chance that the amount of particulate matter in the atmosphere triggers air quality alerts from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. Scientists group the powder into two size groups: PM 2.5, for particles that are 2.5 microns or less, and PM 10, for particles that are 10 microns or smaller.

Saharan dust will bring pretty sunsets to Louisiana this week, but some health risks

The US Environmental Protection Agency. USA It has established a 24-hour standard of 65 microns per cubic meter for PM 2.5 and 150 microns per cubic meter for PM 10. On Monday, Trinidad and Tobago issued a warning for particles above 150 microns per cubic meter, considered unhealthy for all. .

“People with underlying health conditions such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema or COPD should enjoy enhanced views of the sunset from indoors with filtered air, or while wearing a protective mask, if they are outdoors,” Dr Charles Preston, coroner at St. Tammany Parish, said in a press release on Tuesday. “Like the foxglove flower, which contains digitalis, these sunsets can be beautiful but deadly.

“For those most susceptible patients, at the first sign of respiratory distress they should seek treatment from a qualified healthcare provider to mitigate the risks of serious health consequences,” added Preston. “Prevention is the best medicine, but early intervention in symptomatic patients can save lives.”

The good news about the dust cloud is that the dry air it is embedded in limits the development of tropical storms in the Caribbean Sea and will do the same in the Gulf.

“GOES-16 satellite imagery shows that dense dust from the Sahara covers most of the Caribbean,” forecasters at the National Hurricane Center said in a discussion message on the Atlantic tropical climate on Tuesday morning. “This stable, dry air mass inhibits convection throughout the region.”

A weak low-pressure valley on the upper level is expected to dominate southern Louisiana through Wednesday, and embedded low-pressure patches within the canal are expected to continue the pattern of numerous evening and evening thunderstorms that area residents from New Orleans were watching on Tuesday.

The probability of thunderstorms continues through Thursday, with mostly cloudy skies on Friday, and then partly sunny skies on Saturday. Temperatures will be in the upper 80s until Saturday, when they rise to 90.