How desert sand in Africa can affect allergies and asthma in the US

Saharan dust cloud

It is arguably one of the most interesting example of planetary migration. Migration of sand, not animals or birds.


Every year more than 180 million tons of sand/dust from the Sahara desert is lifted by the wind and blown across the Atlantic Ocean. Technically this is called the Saharan Air Layer (SAL). The amount of sand and dust moved every year can fill more than 600,000 trucks. This dust cloud drifts west-ward and eventually reaches the southeastern US. 


The SAL has considerable amount of PM10 (particles smaller than 10 microns) and PM2.5 (particles smaller than 2.5 microns) particles. These are known respiratory pollutants. The larger PM10 particles can irritate the lining of the eyes, nose and throat. For those who already suffer from allergies, this can make their symptoms worse. Symptoms can include:

The smaller PM2.5 particles can actually enter the lungs and aggravate underlying lung disorders like asthma. Symptoms can include


And that is how the sand in Africa can affect your allergies and asthma.


At Advanced Allergy & Asthma Associates our board-certified allergy/asthma/immunology specialists have special training to manage you allergies and asthma. Please call us if you would like to schedule an appointment.

Swapnil Vaidya MD, PhD Board Certified Allergy/Asthma/Immunology Physician

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