The Sahara Dust event as at 11:00 am on Friday 26 June 2020. (Image courtesy Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service)

The Environmental Management Authority (EMA) has issued warnings to this country concerning the Air Quality Index (AQI) as a result of the current Sahara Dust event.

In a news release, the EMA reports that as at Noon today, Friday 26th June 2020, its Monitoring Stations in Point Lisas, Trinidad, registered an alert for SENSITIVE GROUPS with an AQI of 142.  The Monitoring Station in Signal Hill, Tobago, recorded an AQI of 154, sending an alert of UNHEALTHY.

According to EMA, 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. It explains that 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)

With regard to the warning for SENSITIVE GROUPS in Trinidad, based on the Point Lisas status reading of 142, the EMA points to an increasing likelihood of respiratory symptoms in sensitive groups including older adults, children, and people with respiratory ailments and allergies. It also warns of an aggravation of heart or lung disease and premature mortality in people with heart or lung disease.

The EMA advises people in Trinidad with heart or lung disease, older adults, children, and people with respiratory ailments and allergies, to reduce prolonged or heavy exertion.

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

For Tobago, the Signal Hill status reading is an AQI of 154, described as UNHEALTHY.

The EMA 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.