Alert in Cuba on the effects of Sahara Dust

HAVANA, June 23 (PL ) The Cuban Meteorological Institute reiterated its alert on Monday to a large cloud of Dust from the Sahara,which will cover the Caribbean island during the current week.

The models suggest that the values ​​of dust concentrations will be well above normal levels, a factor that causes an appreciable deterioration in air quality, explained the Doctor of Physical Sciences, Eugenio Mojena.

Mojena specified that, although in general dust clouds begin to arrive in our country between March and April, the maximum days in such atmospheric conditions occur in June and July.

The main feature that distinguishes its accentuated presence is the predominance of a dense haze, capable of limiting long-distance visibility, while the sky shows a milky hue, argued Mojena quoted by the Granma newspaper.

Beyond largely conditioning the behaviour of the weather, the Sahara Dust clouds cause negative impacts on human health and that of different marine and terrestrial ecosystems.

According to Mojena, its presence made the Caribbean a true corridor for asthma and other respiratory diseases, especially in people over 65 and children up to four years of age, in addition to favouring the appearance of allergies and problems of the skin.

These clouds are generated by the sand and dust storms of the Sahara and Sahel desert, which can reach heights of three to seven kilometres.

Once emerged from the African continent, they advance westward under the flow of the trade winds, spreading through the Atlantic Ocean to reach the Caribbean Sea, Cuba, the southeastern United States, Mexico and Central America.

They are loaded with particulate material highly harmful to human health and also contain minerals such as iron, calcium, phosphorous, siliceous and mercury, along with viruses, bacteria, fungi, pathogenic mites, staphylococci and persistent organic pollutants.

Dust clouds – Mojena details – originate a very hot air mass with low humidity values ​​that hinder the emergence and development of tropical cyclones by creating a hostile environment.

Likewise, they contribute to accentuate the sensation of heat and decrease the probability of rains in the areas under its influence, although they tend to favour the increase in electrical activity during the usual summer storms.

They are also linked to the decline of coral reef populations since it encourages these ecosystems to be attacked by an endemic fungus from Africa transported by them and the appearance of pests on rice, beans, fruit trees, sugar cane and other crops.