African Deaths From Dust Exceeds Deaths From HIV


Health Editor’s Note: While harmful for those who breath the air laden with minerals (sand), the flow of sand from the Sahara is beneficial for other portions of the world……Carol Sand is carried to the Amazon. 

Dust Toll In Africa Exceeds Deaths From HIV

American Geophysical Union: Submitted by Carol A. Clark

In Africa, air pollution causes the premature deaths of about 780,000 people each year, potentially more than HIV infection, a new study estimates.

Mineral dust from the Sahara desert is the largest contributor to air quality-related mortality on the continent overall according to the new study in AGU’s Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres.

“It’s just the sheer amount of material and also how it co-locates with the densely populated parts of Western Africa. These two things together make mineral dust a bigger health threat than anything that’s anthropogenic or coming from the industrial development,” said Susanne Bauer, a researcher specializing in aerosols and climate modeling at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, and the lead author of the new study.

The new study used global climate models to simulate particulate and ozone pollution throughout the continent, combined with health models to estimate outcomes for exposed populations. Air pollution monitoring is sparse in Africa, but the authors found their modeling results fit the limited data available. The new study is an effort to help bridge that information gap through modeling.
The new study differs from previous studies by quantifying contributions from natural and anthropogenic sources and accounting for climate feedbacks from human industry. Emissions from human activities can change the location and frequency of dust storms, for example.
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