February 28, 2021

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Sahara dust layer causes lowest level of fungal spores in 15 years on the island


Amidst the extensive dust cloud of the Sahara desert that covers the island, the Aeroallergen Station of the Medical Sciences Campus (RCM) of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) registered the lowest number of fungal spores in Puerto Rico in 15 years on Tuesday.

According to Dr. Benjamín Bolaños, associate professor in the RCM Department of Microbiology, this is because the air is drier than normal by the Saharan particulate layer.

" Everyone has the concept that dust from Africa brings us fungi, bacteria, viruses, insecticides, toxins, and a host of other bad things. However, what we observe in Puerto Rico is not that, quite the opposite that when the dust arrives from Africa, the spores drop . It is not that the dust contributes spores to Puerto Rich, but by lowering the humidity of the environment, because it is a desiccant effect, that means that the spores of Puerto Rico are not released into the air and that is why the numbers drop, "the expert explained to El Nuevo Día .

He indicated that the level of spores was placed today at 730, while yesterday it was 4,000.

Fungus spores seen from a microcoscope. (Supplied)

Station data details that the highest level of fungal spores in 15 years was recorded on the island in October 2019, when the figure showed a trend three times above normal in Caguas. [19659007] " The fungus is always present in the year. It is not like the pollen that sometimes occurs and other times it does not. The fungus is always present, but the levels drop when the rain falls. In the Summer falls and in April, during Lent, it falls. It also depends on the entrances or incursions of dust from the Sahara that also causes spores to drop, "he established.

He recalled that Puerto Rico is going through one of the worst dust episodes of the Sahara. He indicated that, for example, the entity he directs located more sand than yesterday at the station. When this medium asked about the characteristics of the particulate, it said that it has identified very fine particles that could be harmful to health.

" The dust particle of the Sahara is generally greater than 10 microns, it is a coarse particle, large and heavy I don't know if we are seeing more large particles, but it is important to highlight that there is fine particle of less than 5 microns that that can affect the lower respiratory tract of the lung can reach the alveolus and produce some type of lung irritation, "he said.

According to the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, until 2:00 pm Today's air quality was "very unhealthy," so according to the agency, people with respiratory conditions could show complications, as well as those who are healthy.

"Everyone can begin to suffer from effects on health and could aggravate respiratory problems in sensitive groups, "states the DRNA notice.



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