Sahara Dust forecast as of 20 June 2020. [Image courtesy Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service (TTMS)]

The Environmental Management Authority (EMA) is warning that the Air Quality Index (AQI) has registered UNHEALTHY in Trinidad and HAZARDOUS in Tobago, as at 11:00 am today, Sunday 21 June 2020, at its Monitoring Stations in Point Lisas and Signal Hill, respectively, as a result of the current Sahara Dust event.

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

The EMA reports that the reading from the Point Lisas Monitoring Station indicates an UNHEALTHY status, with an AQI index of 179.

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 Trinidad 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.

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

With regard to the Signal Hill Monitoring Station, the EMA reports a status of HAZARDOUS, with an AQI index of 426.

It warns of serious aggravation of respiratory symptoms in sensitive groups including older adults, children, and people with respiratory ailments and allergies; serious aggravation of heart or lung disease and premature mortality in people with heart or lung disease; and serious risk of respiratory effects in general population.

It also advises that everyone should avoid all physical activity outdoors. The EMA urges people in Tobago with heart or lung disease, older adults, children, and people with respiratory ailments and allergies to remain indoors and keep activity levels low.