Recently, European levels of air pollution have risen dramatically, as a result of dust from sand in the Sahara. To protect yourself and your families, you should be aware of the risks posed by this type of air pollution, and understand the best measures that can limit any associated health risks.
In this blog post, we will be explaining this recent development, detailing the areas affected, and providing our advice on how you can minimize the impact that this type of air pollution has on your health.
What areas are affected?
In countries across Southern and Central parts of Europe, a cloud which is made up of fine sand particles has drifted from the Sahara desert (located in Algeria) in such a volume that a spike in air pollution levels has been recorded.
This increased volume of air pollution was picked up by the Copernicus satellite monitoring programme of The European Commission. The intention behind this programme is to track levels of harmful particulate matter in the air.
Due to a significant increase in PM10, that has been caused by these sand particles, in some countries, the sky has turned colour, to a dusky orange, or even red in some cases. This sighting was particularly prominent in the high, normally bright and clear skies of European mountains including the Alps and the Pyrenees. In these areas, the ski slopes had the appearance of looking orange, as the snow reflected the ominous colour in the sky.
Other areas in which a spike in PM10 was recorded included cities like Barcelona, Lyon, and Marseille, as Spain and France are two countries which have been particularly hit by this air pollution.
What is causing the air pollution?
This form of air pollution is being caused by fine sand particles - originally from the desert, now travelling as a Sahara dust storm - being transmitted overseas, in a large cloud of dust. These sand particles are so fine that they are classified as PM10 particles. This is because the particles are less than 10 micrometers in size.
Particulate matter is a type of air pollution, which covers a variety of different microscopic particles. These particles are largely invisible, but they can cause significant health complications if we inhale them in large quantity.
Other examples of particulate matter include pollen, dust, smoke, or gases, such as those which are released when we burn fossil fuels.
What are the health risks?
Although this report does show a concerning rise in air pollution levels, it is important not to panic - currently, the report from The European Commission stated that the levels of PM10 have not reached levels which are considered to be harmful to humans.
However, as with any particulate matter, breathing in PM10 can cause considerable health complications. The risks of this type of air pollution include the developments of symptoms such as:
- Difficulty breathing if PM10 reaches the lungs
- Asthma attacks
- High blood pressure.
Furthermore, it is important to be aware of the fact that these symptoms are particularly pronounced in an individual who suffers from pre-existing conditions or breathing difficulties, such as asthma. So, if you do suffer from a breathing condition, you must take appropriate measures to protect yourself from breathing in air pollution.
What is the best form of protection?
If you are concerned about the risks associated with the developments of this dust storm, fortunately, there are several different ways in which you can protect yourself and your family.
Our best advice for protecting yourself from PM10 would be to invest in a face mask that can filter out particulate matter from the air that you breathe. You can wear this face mask when you head out of the house, and this will provide you with unbeatable protection against air pollution.