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Saharan Desert dust could cause significant impact to allergies

An East Texas allergist recommended people with asthma, COPD or other respiratory conditions should probably stay indoors once the wave hits the region.

TYLER, Texas — The dust clouds coming to Texas from the Sahara Desert are not expected to have a significant effect on the weather in the state. However, the dust can cause problems for those with allergies or respiratory problems.

Dust storms happened each year. However, this year, the dust sweeping through the U.S. is moving through more dramatically. 

Allergist Dr. Jack Harris says the dust storm will decrease the air quality which may intensify symptoms of respiratory illness.

"It might make it more difficult for them to breathe or cause coughing or wheezing." Dr. Harris said. "The same thing for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) it may just cause an exacerbation or make their symptoms flare from from their baseline level."

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He says people with asthma or COPD or other respiratory conditions should probably stay indoors once the plumes of dust hit East Texas.

"Well wearing a mask like everybody's doing for COVID-19 is not a bad idea that can help somewhat," Dr. Harris said. "These are fine particles and some of them may go through the mask but the mask will probably help filter some of it out."

Also, people should be prepared to drive during the dust storm. Driving through thick dust is different from driving through thick fog. It might not be easy to see other cars closely during a dust storm.

The good news is the dust will not stick around for long, and the air quality will soon improve. 

However, there is something people can look forward to with the storm. The dust coming in from the Sahara Desert will collect around the sun's rays to produce stunning sunsets.

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