What is it and what are the health effects?

Several Mediterranean provinces are suffering from an episode of dust from the Sahara Desert which leaves completely new images in Murcia, Valencia, Almería and also in Madrid. This weather phenomenon is known as haze and is very common in the Canary Islands. However, it can also occur in parts of the Iberian Peninsula, although it is not very common.


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Since yesterday, a powerful fog of dust from the Sahara, which in recent hours has put several provinces in southern Spain on alert, has put this meteorological phenomenon in the media spotlight, which could have an impact on health s lasts a long time. . Communities such as the Region of Murcia have already adopted measures for this episode of dust in cities such as Cartagena, Molina de Segura and the capital of Murcia, where level 3 of the protocol of measures to be adopted during episodes of pollution of the air has been activated.

Calima is spreading across Spain: what is it and what are the health effects?
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Calima is spreading across Spain: what is it and what are the health effects?


What is the mist?

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Calima in Murcia

CREDIT BY CARLOS J. EGIO / EP

Haze is a meteorological phenomenon that usually occurs in the atmosphere and is characterized by the presence of dust and sand particles suspended in the air. The most visible result is a cloudy environment. Hence the disturbing orange images that more of some cities and towns in Andalusia seem to be taken from Mars.


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Haze usually occurs when there are strong winds that carry large amounts of sand and dust (clay, gypsum, calcite and other minerals) thousands of miles away, usually coming from North Africa, from where it is transported to the Atlantic. , passing through the Canary Islands and Cape Verde, and sometimes reaches the mainland and touches Spain, Italy or Greece.


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What are the maximum exposure levels?

The concentration of these particles in the air reduces visibility, which could lead to traffic accidents. In this sense, the haze could be dangerous for people’s health. On the other hand, it must be taken into account that particles measuring less than ten microns enter our body through the respiratory tract, so it could be dangerous for our health to breathe so many particles in the air continuously. According to the World Health Organization, the maximum level you can be exposed to this air is 50 mg per cubic meter.

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An exceptional episode of dust from the Sahara desert is recorded this Monday afternoon in several Mediterranean provinces

French Natxo / EFE

The automatic air pollution control and monitoring stations in San Basilio and Alcantarilla, both belonging to the air quality zone of the urban agglomeration of Murcia, exceeded the daily average value of 100 g/m3 of PM10 particles, i.e. a value of 144 g/m3 and 141 g/m3, respectively.

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Some people work in Aguadulce, Roquetas de Mar (Almería) who woke up this Tuesday under the effects of the intense haze

Carlos Beard / EFE

In Cartagena, the arrival of Saharan dust in the south-east of the peninsula has motivated the town hall of Cartagena to also activate level 3 for contaminating particles at the measurement stations of Mompeán, Alumbres and Valle de Escombreras. More precisely, the daily average this Monday at the Valle de Escombreras (203 g/m3), Alumbres (179 g/m3) and Mompeán (114 g/m3) stations exceeded the value of 50 g/m3, and therefore the limit value Daily .


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Airborne dust complicates visibility in the city.

Based on the measurements carried out at the San Basilio and Alcantarilla stations, the municipal network of Molina de Segura recorded a maximum value of 1,500 g/m3 at the La Alcayna station.

What effects does haze have on health?

Mist stains the skies of Murcia.

The mist stains the skies of Murcia

EFE / MARCIAL GUILLEN

Airborne dust can pose a serious risk to human health if exposed for a long time. Its negative effects are proportional to the size of the particles that compose it and can cause skin and eye irritation, conjunctivitis, asthma, tracheitis, pneumonia, allergic rhinitis and silicosis. Therefore, the people most affected by this type of phenomenon are those who suffer from allergies or respiratory diseases.

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The people most affected by this type of phenomenon are those who suffer from allergies or respiratory pathologies.

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Similarly, exposure to Saharan dust increases the risk of death in heart failure. In this sense, from the Ministry of Health of Murcia, they recalled that in the face of the intrusion of an African air mass that is affecting the region from this Tuesday and over the next few days, the health recommendations that must be adopted, with particular attention paid to the high-risk population.

Avoid physical activities indoors and outdoors

Health authorities in Murcia have recommended avoiding strenuous physical activities and sports, both outdoors and indoors, especially for people with respiratory problems, given the forecast of exceeding normal levels of suspended particles.

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A man observes the mist from the viewpoint of Cerro del Tío Pío, Madrid

Carlos Lujan / EP

In case of breathing difficulties or cardiac discomfort (wheezing, palpitations), consult a healthcare professional, reduce intense physical or sports activities, and favor short outings, as well as those that require less effort.

They also advised to avoid driving on the main roads and to travel in periods when these concentrations are generally higher, that is to say early in the morning and late in the afternoon.

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