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Windy conditions can cause blowing dust, affect air quality

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Localized windy conditions can kick up dust from unpaved surfaces, dirt roads and open fields. Strong regional wind patterns can also carry fine dust particles into the area from miles away. This often results in what is referred to as a dust storm. 

When dust storms occur, it’s important to take proper precautions. Dust is made up of tiny particles. When inhaled, these particles can settle deeply into lungs and can irritate or damage sensitive tissues in the respiratory system. People with respiratory illnesses, the elderly, young children, pregnant women, and anyone engaged in strenuous physical activity outdoors are most at risk. Here is a guide to particle pollution and health from EPA.

After a windstorm, fine dust remains suspended in the air or is kicked up by vehicles. In some low-lying areas where the air is stagnant, particles may settle out of the air slowly. Sensitive people who want to prepare for dust storms should pay attention to local weather forecasts and check with their doctors. Drive more slowly to reduce airborne dust and postpone projects at home that stir up dust when conditions are dusty.

You can sign up to receive alerts to air quality changes here.

Here’s how you can protect yourself and your family during a dust storm:

·         Stay indoors as much as possible.

·         Watch for sudden changes in visibility while driving.

·         Avoid driving during windy conditions when windblown dust is likely.

·         Turn on headlights as a safety precaution.

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