Sunday 20 October 2019

Asthma sufferers warned of 'uncommon' Saharan dust spreading across Ireland

Red dust seen on cars in the midlands this morning. Photo: Midlands 103
Red dust seen on cars in the midlands this morning. Photo: Midlands 103
Rachel Farrell

Rachel Farrell

MANY residents in the midlands woke up to a sheen of red dust across their cars this morning - and more is expected to spread across Ireland this week.

The 'mysterious' red dust is Saharan dust from the Sahara Desert, which was dispersed over parts of Ireland over the weekend and early this week.

The dust is said to be "uncommon" in this part of Europe, and is a mix of sand and dust from the North African desert.

"This is a polluted form of air that’s coming from the east, dragging itself over to Ireland and the UK," a spokesperson for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) told Independent.ie.

And according to the EPA, the dust particles can cause potential health problems for people particularly affected by poor air quality, such as asthma.

"Saharan Dust events can lead to higher levels of particulate matter, or fine dust, in our air," a spokesperson for the EPA said.

"How much of dust from the Sahara will reach Ireland and for how long will depend on the prevailing weather, in particular the wind direction and speed."

According to the EPA, the EU Copernicus Forecast modelling system is predicting areas of poor air quality over Ireland today.

Saharan dust hovering off the coast of Western Europe in 2011. Photo: NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, Goddard Space Flight Center.
Saharan dust hovering off the coast of Western Europe in 2011. Photo: NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, Goddard Space Flight Center.

In the UK, forecasters have noticed some "interesting sunrises" as a result of the dust, which has created a red glow in the morning sky.

"Quite an orange glow around at the moment and you may well notice it over the next couple of days," BBC weather forecaster Louise Lear said.

More information can be found on the EPA’s website at airquality.ie for the latest Air Quality Index for Health monitoring results and related health advice.

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