EMA: Sahara dust causes unhealthy air quality

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

This photo, taken at the Lady Young Road in Belmont, shows Port of Spain blanketed by Sahara dust on Sunday. – Photo by Roger Jacob

DUE to Sahara dust, the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) has advised the public that the current “air quality” level has been registered as unhealthy on the air quality index (AQI) at the EMA’s monitoring station in San Fernando at 11 am on Sunday.

Readings from the EMA’s monitoring stations in Arima, Mayaro, Point Lisas and Port of Spain have registered air quality as unhealthy for sensitive groups.

Levels range between 111 and 159 on the AQI. The increase in particulate matter (PM) is attributed to Sahara dust.

“Everyone, in particular, sensitive groups, including older adults, children, and individuals with heart or lung disease, respiratory ailments, and allergies, are strongly advised to avoid prolonged or heavy exertion.”

The EMA, through the National Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Network, has been obtaining accurate, real-time assessments of ambient air quality at strategic points nationally. The AQI is a number used by government agencies to communicate to the public how polluted the air currently is or how polluted it is forecast to become. As the AQI rises, an increasingly large percentage of the population is likely to experience severe adverse health effects.

The country’s six monitoring stations are at Mayaro, Arima, Port of Spain, Point Lisas, San Fernando and Signal Hill, Tobago.