Florida Saharan dust prompts Pinellas, Hillsborough County air pollution precautionary warnings

Saharan dust has made its way to Florida and officials in Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties are warning certain residents to take heed. 

The Pinellas County Air Quality section of Public Works issued an Air Pollution Precautionary Advisory on Wednesday morning due to elevated levels of the pollutant Particulate Matter of 2.5 micrometers or less (PM 2.5). This means there are microscopic solids or liquid droplets in the air that are so small that they can be inhaled and cause serious health problems.

Shortly afterward, Hillsborough County issued a similar advisory. 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, some particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter can get deep into your lungs and some may even get into your bloodstream.

The EPA states that particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter pose the greatest health risk. 

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County officials encourage people who are sensitive to PM 2.5, such as those with asthma, older adults, children and teenagers, and people who are active outdoors, to consider reducing prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion.

The county stated that the reduced air quality is because of the presence of dusty air from the Saharan Desert that traveled across the Atlantic Ocean.

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The dust is also dropping rain chances in the Bay Area. 

The Air Pollution Precautionary Advisories are effective Wednesday through Friday but may be lifted early if the forecast changes. 

Click here to learn more about the air quality in Pinellas County. 

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