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Impact of Desert Dust on Air Quality: What is the Meaningfulness of Daily PM Standards in Regions Close to the Sources? The Example of Southern Tunisia
Open AccessArticle

Impacts of Desert Dust Outbreaks on Air Quality in Urban Areas

1
Izaña Atmospheric Research Center, AEMET, Santa Cruz de Tenerife 38001, Spain
2
Environment Vice-Ministry, Canary Islands Government, Santa Cruz de Tenerife 34922, Spain
3
Experimental Station of Arid Zones, EEZA CSIC, Almería 04120, Spain
4
Institute of Natural Products and Agrobiology, IPNA CSIC, Tenerife 38206, Spain
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Atmosphere 2020, 11(1), 23; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos11010023
Received: 15 November 2019 / Revised: 17 December 2019 / Accepted: 18 December 2019 / Published: 25 December 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Studying the Effects of Dust on Weather, Climate, and Air Pollution)
Air pollution has many adverse effects on health and is associated with an increased risk of mortality. Desert dust outbreaks contribute directly to air pollution by increasing particulate matter concentrations. We investigated the influence of desert dust outbreaks on air quality in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, a city located in the dust export pathway off the west coast of North Africa, using air-quality observations from a six-year period (2012–2017). During winter intense dust outbreaks PM 10 mean (24-h) concentrations increased from 14 μ g m 3 to 98 μ g m 3 , on average, and PM 2 . 5 mean (24-h) concentrations increased from 6 μ g m 3 to 32 μ g m 3 . Increases were less during summer outbreaks, with a tripling of PM 10 and PM 2 . 5 daily mean concentrations. We found that desert dust outbreaks reduced the height of the marine boundary layer in our study area by >45%, on average, in summer and by ∼25%, on average, in winter. This thinning of the marine boundary layer was associated with an increase of local anthropogenic pollution during dust outbreaks. NO 2 and NO mean concentrations more than doubled and even larger relative increases in black carbon were observed during the more intense summer dust outbreaks; increases also occurred during the winter outbreaks but were less than in summer. This has public health implications; local anthropogenic emissions need to be reduced even further in areas that are impacted by desert dust outbreaks to reduce adverse health effects. View Full-Text
Keywords: desert dust; air quality; particulate matter; anthropogenic pollution desert dust; air quality; particulate matter; anthropogenic pollution
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Milford, C.; Cuevas, E.; Marrero, C.L.; Bustos, J.; Gallo, V.; Rodríguez, S.; Romero-Campos, P.M.; Torres, C. Impacts of Desert Dust Outbreaks on Air Quality in Urban Areas. Atmosphere 2020, 11, 23.

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