Saharan Dust affecting air quality in Miami-Dade County
Current Air Quality Index is at “Moderate” range; vulnerable populations should stay indoors
The Air Quality Index (AQI) for Miami-Dade County is currently in the “Moderate” range. The level of Particulate Matter indicates the presence of Saharan dust in Miami-Dade County, which may last until next week.
The Department of Regulatory and Economic Resources, Division of Environmental Resources Management (DERM) and the Health Department are advising citizens, especially children, the elderly and pregnant women, to take precautionary steps to stay indoors and to continue monitoring the AQI during the coming days, in the event that the changes in wind pattern might affect the current conditions.
The Saharan dust, a mass of extremely dry and dusty air, travels across the Atlantic Ocean by strong winds from the Sahara Desert in Western Africa during the northern hemisphere's late spring to early autumn. A strong high-high pressure system with clockwise circulation has pushed the Saharan dust from the Caribbean towards Florida's Gulf Coast. A high concentration of Saharan dust in the Caribbean region reached record “hazardous“ air quality levels on Monday, June 22, 2020.
DERM offers a FREE service that allows subscribers to receive via e-mail a daily air quality forecast for Miami-Dade County. Residents can subscribe online. Additionally, residents can also view the latest Air Quality Index (AQI) for Miami-Dade County online or call 305-372-6925 for more information.
DERM and the Health Department recommend that residents, especially vulnerable populations, follow the following guidelines during an incident of high dust or particulate matter levels:
- Limit outdoor activities and remain in an air-conditioned environment.
- Stay indoors with well-functioning air condition and ventilation system.
- Do not add to indoor air pollution. Do not vacuum, use candles, fireplaces, or gas stoves. Do not smoke.
- Leave the area until the dust has cleared if there is no air-conditioning or if dust is likely to get inside the house.
- Avoid activities that put extra demands on the lungs and heart. These include exercise or physical tours, both outdoors and indoors.
- Take all medications according to the doctor's instructions.
- Contact your medical provider if you are concerned about your health or if your health worsens.
Dust from the Sahara desert can cause inflammatory response even in healthy people. It can make people feel sick and lethargic, causing sinus symptoms, including congestion, trouble breathing, asthma attacks, incessant sneezing, swelling of the throat and eyes, coughing, watery and itchy eyes, runny and stuffy nose. Dust can aggravate chronic heart and lung diseases.