For the first time since the March 2019 Saharan Dust Outbreak, air quality levels are nearing unhealthy for sensitive groups across Trinidad and Tobago, as well as a number of islands across the Eastern Caribbean. As of 8:00 AM Monday 10th June 2019, Saharan Dust concentrations are moderate to high across Trinidad and Tobago with air quality at moderate levels, presently. Air quality across the entire Eastern Caribbean are at moderate levels due to elevated concentrations of dust across the region. Peak Saharan Dust concentrations are forecast over the next 24 hours, but air quality is forecast to remain at moderate levels through the remainder of the week. Persons with respiratory ailments, heart disease, the elderly and children need to take the necessary precautions!
Presently, moderate to high concentrations of Saharan Dust is present across Trinidad and Tobago, with air quality at moderate levels. Air quality is quickly being reduced across Trinidad and Tobago as dense, Saharan Dust moves into the area. Air quality monitoring stations across Trinidad are detecting elevated levels of Saharan Dust, with air quality index (AQI) values rising from 32 AQI to 92 AQI in just under 7 hours (midnight to 7:00 AM).
According to the EMA, the national standard for Particulate Matter (PM) of diameter ≤2.5 µm (PM2.5) is 65 µg/m3 and PM of diameter ≤10 µm (PM2.5) is 75 µg/m3. Neither of these has been topped, as of 9:00AM.
All islands across the Eastern Caribbean, extending into the Greater Antilles are experiencing moderate air quality as this dense plume of dust moves across the region. A number of other air quality monitoring stations across both the Windwards and Leewards are recording AQI values between 85-95 (moderate AQI). At AQI values above 101, air quality levels reach unhealthy for sensitive groups.
At moderate air quality levels, unusually sensitive groups should consider reducing prolonged or heavy exertion.
At air quality levels that are unhealthy for sensitive groups, there is the increasing likelihood of respiratory symptoms in sensitive individuals, aggravation of heart or lung disease and premature mortality in persons with cardiopulmonary disease & the elderly. People with respiratory or heart disease, the elderly and children should limit prolonged exertion.
The concentration of the dust that follows the wave depends on the strength of the wave as it moves off the West African Coast. This is because of stronger thunderstorms across Central Africa. As strong winds move downward and outward from these thunderstorms, the wind kicks up dust as it moves across parts of the Saharan Desert and transports it into the upper atmosphere. This “plume” of dust follows the axis of the wave as it progresses westward into the Atlantic.
Larger, more concentrated plumes of Saharan dust begin to occur in April and continue through November.
Dust models continue to show, following the passage of tropical waves, moderate to high concentrations of Saharan Dust moving across Trinidad and Tobago over the next several weeks.
Sensitive groups such as persons with respiratory ailments, children, the elderly and cardiopulmonary disease should take the necessary precautions on days where dust concentrations degrade air quality to moderate to unhealthy for sensitive groups.