Saharan dust arriving Friday to Central Alabama

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Saharan dust is heading toward the U.S., and it should impact the central Alabama starting Friday. It’ll bring rich, beautiful sunrises and sunsets but also respiratory concerns for some people.

Family medicine physician Dr. Celeste Reese-Willis said people with asthma, allergies and chronic lung conditions may need to use caution when outdoors the next few days. People suffering from these conditions should stock up on any maintenance medication they need so they’ll have it, she said. It’s also wise to avoid going outside if possible.

“If you do have asthma and you have to leave your home this weekend in between, let’s say Thursday/Friday and Monday/Tuesday, do not leave home without your inhaler,” Reese-Willis said.

Even people who don’t have these conditions should be cautious, she said. She recommended avoiding strenuous activity outside for the next few days.

“The dust particles come in through your nose, they go irritate the back of your throat, they go down to your lower air passageway,” Reese-Willis said. “So when we really have strenuous exercise, we use our air reserve capacity at the bottom of our lungs. That’s going to be decreased with all these dust particles flying around and the air being compromised the way that it will be.”

Many people already are wearing masks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Reese-Willis says the masks also offer protection from the Saharan dust.

“When the dust particles come in though, they can bring with it particles of viruses, bacteria, pollen spores, other things that can irritate you,” she said. “So yet another reason why wearing the mask is important because the mask serves as a filter to help keep dust particles out.”

The Saharan dust should start to affect the Gulf Coast Thursday. Central Alabama will start to feel the effects by Friday.


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