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Saharan Dust affecting some people in the Coastal Bend

Posted at 7:21 PM, Jun 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-15 20:21:00-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — It's a weather phenomenon that happens during the early months of hurricane season.

The plume of dust originates in the Saharan desert, travels across the Atlantic, affecting mostly the Caribbean, Florida and Texas.

The Saharan dust is triggering some people's immune systems.

Pulmonologist Humayun Anjum said there are three things that come into play: the size of the dust particles, the composition and concentration.

"In terms of the size, we know that these are very small particles to get inhaled into the deeper parts of the lung," Anjum said.

However, the particle by itself is not the problem. It is the mineral dust that comes from the Saharan Desert.

The problem begins as it travels and what adheres to it.

"There's a lot of microorganisms such as bacteria, fungus, viruses and they attach to these dust particles and (other) particles," Anjum said.

By the time it makes it to the Coastal Bend, people are inhaling more than just minerals, affecting the most vulnerable in the community.

Esteban Cantu Jr. said he's recently recovering from a respiratory illness and is taking precautions to minimize the impact on his health.

"I also have COPD, so I have to watch when I'm outside, especially if I'm working on the lawn or something. With this dust, probably makes it even worse," said Cantu.

This dust cloud will be sticking around for a few more days and health experts say the best thing to do is to avoid it.

"Limit your exposure to the outside and even if you do then you should wear a mask," said Anjum. "I usually try to keep these people on their inhalers or their medications that they usually take so that way we keep things under control."