Georgia health officials urge people to protect themselves against Sahara dust

ATLANTA — The Georgia Department of Public Health is urging people to protect themselves from the Saharan dust cloud as it moves over the state the next few days.

Officials said strong, warm winds over the Sahara kick up sand at this time of year and carry it thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean. This years, the dust is more dense than it has been for over 50 years.

The GDPH said people with chronic lung conditions are particularly at risk. The dust can cause eye, nose and throat irritation and wheezing in people with allergies or asthma.

Here are some tips to stay safe:

  • If it appears hazy or dusty outside, limit outdoor activities such as yard work, exercise, children playing.
  • Wear a face mask outside to keep dust particles out of the nose and mouth, and to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Pay attention to local air quality reports and news coverage related to the dust plume.
  • Keep indoor air as clean as possible. Keep windows and doors closed. Run an air conditioner if you have one, but keep the fresh-air intake closed.
  • Follow the advice of your doctor or other health care provider about medicines and condition management if you have asthma or another lung condition.
  • If you experience a medical emergency, call 911.