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DPNR ALERT: Saharan Dust Presents An Air Pollution Hazard … At Its Peak Right Now


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CHARLOTTE AMALIE — The Department of Planning and Natural Resources advised the public of an on-going air pollution alert for dust from the Sahara Desert in Africa.

The dust is continuing to cause the skies around the Virgin Islands to be hazy, which reduces the visibility and results in poor air quality, according to DPNR Commissioner Dawn Henry. As a result of the dust storms and a rise in warm air, the sand rises above the desert. These sandy dust particles are transported from the North African desert westward over the Atlantic Ocean across the Caribbean. To improve air quality in your house, you may want to invest in a Winix 5500-2 air purifier to make sure you’re not breathing in dust in your own home.

The National Weather Service in San Juan, Puerto Rico has confirmed that we are experiencing the peak of the dust storm now. The conditions will not be pleasant for the remainder of the day and tomorrow, but the dust should dissipate by this weekend.

While this haze may not be an immediate threat, persons with allergies or respiratory ailments should remain indoors when possible, and consult their physicians or healthcare professional for further guidance.

Sahara dust storms pass through the region several times a year, but mainly in the spring and throughout the summer months.

For more information contact the Division of Environmental Protection at (340) 773-1082 or go to or

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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