The Sahara Dust event as at 11 am on Monday 22 June 2020. (Image courtesy Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service)

The Environmental Management Authority (EMA) is warning that the Air Quality Index (AQI) has registered UNHEALTHY in Tobago, while in Trinidad, it has registered as MODERATE, as a result of the current Sahara Dust event.

This, according to the latest readings taken at the EMA’s Monitoring Stations in Signal Hill and Point Lisas, respectively, at 11:00am today, Monday 22 June 2020.

In a news release, the EMA explains that the Air Quality Index (AQI) is a number used by government agencies to communicate to the public how polluted the air currently is, or how polluted it is forecast to become.

According to EMA, as the AQI increases, an increasingly large percentage of the population is likely to experience increasingly severe adverse health effects.

The EMA reports that the reading from the Point Lisas Monitoring Station indicates a MODERATE status, with an AQI of 91.

The AQI report from the EMA Monitoring Station in Point Lisas, Trinidad. (Image: EMA)

It notes that respiratory symptoms are possible in unusually sensitive individuals. It also warns of possible aggravation of heart or lung disease in people with cardiopulmonary disease and older adults.

The EMA advises people in Trinidad who are unusually sensitive to consider reducing prolonged or heavy exertion.

With regard to the Signal Hill Monitoring Station, the EMA reports a status of UNHEALTHY, with an AQI of 154.

The AQI report from the EMA Monitoring Station in Signal Hill, Tobago. (Image: EMA)

It notes that there could be increased aggravation of respiratory symptoms in sensitive groups including older adults, children, and people with respiratory ailments and allergies; increased aggravation of heart or lung disease and premature mortality in people with heart or lung disease; and increased respiratory effects in general population.

The EMA also advises people in Tobago with heart or lung disease, older adults, children, and people with respiratory ailments and allergies to avoid prolonged or heavy exertion. It also urges everyone else to reduce prolonged or heavy exertion.