eKathimerini — Health authorities on Crete have warned that the island will be blanketed Wednesday by a sandstorm carrying airborne dust in excess of the daily average of 50 micrograms of PM10 per cubic meter.
People with respiratory and heart conditions and the over-65s are advised to avoid intense physical activity, while drivers are urged to limit the use of cars.
The sandstorm is expected to ease by Sunday.
Health problems caused by dust
Dust storms can cause a number of serious health problems and they can make some health problems worse. Dust is made up of tiny solid particles (“particulate matter”) floating in the air. These tiny particles can get past the lungs’ natural defenses and build up. This can harm sensitive lung tissue. Of course, during severe dust storms, more dust can get into the lungs. Dust irritates the lungs and can trigger allergic reactions, as well as asthma attacks. In people who already have these problems these attacks can be serious and cause breathing problems. Dust can cause coughing, wheezing and runny noses. Some groups of people are more sensitive to dust than others.
The following groups are at the highest risk:
infants, children, and teens • elderly • people with asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, or other respiratory conditions • people with heart disease • pregnant women • healthy adults working or exercising vigorously outdoors (for example, agricultural workers, construction workers, and runners)