Dust from the Sahara to the American Continent: Health impacts Dust from Sahara

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Marilyn Urrutia-Pereira
Luciana Varanda Rizzo
Patrícia Latour Staffeld
Herberto Jose Chong-Neto
Giovanni Viegi
Dirceu Solé


Saharan dust, Human health, Mineral dust, atmospheric pollution


The Saharan Air Layer is a mass of hot, dry air laden with dust that forms over the Sahara and moves towards the Atlantic Ocean. This air mass contains soil dust particles emitted by the action of winds on the African continent. Between June and August, the large-scale patterns of wind circulation transport dust from the Sahara across the tropical North Atlantic Ocean,
affecting parts of the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico, even some regions of the United States, and the Mediterranean and Southern Europe. Between December and April, wind circulation patterns facilitate dust transportation from the Sahara to the northern parts of South America and the Amazon. This dust transportation a phenomenon of interest to geosciences
and public health because of the potential health impacts of dust dispersion and circulation in the atmosphere. Thus, we assessed the relationship between exposure to Saharan dust (SahD) and its implications for human health in the Americas. We performed a nonsystematic review in the PubMed, Google Scholar, EMBASE, and Scielo databases of studies published between 2000 and 2020 in Portuguese, English, French, or Spanish using the search words “Saharan dust,” or “mineral dust,” or “desert dust,” and “human health.” The available direct air pollutants measurements indicate that the pollution level in the cities affected on a constant and prolonged basis is high versus acceptable standards. Further, this review also showed that the negative health effects of SahD are sparsely studied in the Americas.

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