DOH Advises Residents to Be Cautious When Saharan Dust Is Present

This St. Croix home's usual view of Buck Island is obscured by the Saharan dust. (Source photo by Linda Morland)
This St. Croix home’s usual view of Buck Island is obscured by the Saharan dust. (Source photo by Linda Morland)

The V.I. Department of Health (VIDOH) advises the public to be cautious about spending time outdoors when the Virgin Islands are experiencing clouds of Saharan Dust.

Virgin Islanders can take steps to reduce their risk of developing health concerns while Saharan Dust is present, which include staying indoors or only participating in less strenuous activities. Persons can walk instead of run, which supports calmer breathing. In addition, wearing a mask when outdoors will help to prevent inhaling dust.

Once a person enters a home, changing clothes and taking a shower will remove any irritants from the skin or immediate environment.

Saharan Dust consists of particles of varied sizes that can be harmful to one’s health. Larger particles can irritate the eyes, nose and throat while the smaller particles can get into the lungs and create more severe health concerns. These health concerns can be mild to severe, depending on the individual’s health.

For instance, persons with asthma or heart disease may experience symptoms that may require medical intervention or medication.

Symptoms of concern can include trouble breathing, wheezing, coughing, chest pain or tightness, fast heartbeat, feeling out of breath or being more tired than usual. If someone experiences any of these symptoms and they get worse or last for an extended period, do not hesitate to contact the doctor or go to the emergency room.