A dust storm is a meteorological phenomenon in which strong winds carry dust or sand particles in huge amounts. It is also known as a sandstorm or haboob. It is common in arid or deserts.
Various factors affect the intensity of dust storms (mild to severe), such as the wind speed, duration of the storm and the amount of loose or dry sand available in the area.
A dust storm turns the clear atmosphere into hazy and reduces the visibility of the surroundings.
Effect of a dust storm on respiratory health
Dust storms can cause various health impacts, especially on respiratory health. The fine dust particles can be the reason for respiratory irritation and eventually cause breathing difficulty, especially in people with existing respiratory issues such as allergies, asthma, COPD and other respiratory tract issues.
Tips to prevent dust storm
In regions where dust storms are common, preventive measures can be taken to reduce exposure to fine dust particles in order to prevent dust-related health issues. Some of the measures that can help with dust storms are:
Stay indoors: For people who are allergic to dust, staying indoors is very important. Keep your house door, window, vents, and other openings closed to prevent the entry of dust into your living space.
Wear a mask: Wearing a mask while going out in a dusty environment can help prevent the entry of dust particles into your nose.
Cover your face and eyes: Covering your face with a scarf and wearing goggles outdoors can help prevent the entry of dust particles into eyes, ears, mouth and hair. Exposure to dust can make your skin prone to acne, cause redness and itching in the eyes, sneezing, and dust particles entering your ears and mouth.
Stay well hydrated: The dry and dusty environment caused by dust storms can make you dehydrated, which can, in turn irritate your respiratory tract. Hence it is important to stay well hydrated. Drink plenty of water. Drinking lemon water can be another best alternative to prevent dehydration.
Use air purifiers: Air purifiers are known to keep the air clean. It removes dust particles from the air by purifying the air. HEPA (High-efficiency air filters) are well known to keep the indoor air clean and dust-free. However, it is important to clean and replace the filters timely.
Limit outdoor activities: When a dust storm is approaching, it is best to stay indoors, especially if you have respiratory issues. In case you go outdoors, wear a mask and cover your face and eyes to prevent the entry of dust into your nose, eyes and ears.
Following these tips can help minimize your exposure to dust storms.