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Intercontinental Dust Transport

Immense dust clouds in the upper atmosphere, detected by remote sensing, move across oceans from Asia and Africa to the United States. Published estimates of African dust movement to the Amazon basin, the Caribbean, and the southeastern United States are on the order of hundreds of millions of tons annually. Movement of African dust to the Caribbean and the United States has increased dramatically since 1970 because of drought in North Africa.

USGS analysis of dust samples collected at monitoring stations shows that the African dusts can carry pesticides, heavy metals (such as mercury and arsenic), naturally occurring radioactive isotopes, pollen, insects, miscellaneous organic debris, smoke, and pathogenic viruses, bacteria, and fungi. These constituents may play a role in coral death in the Caribbean, adversely affect water quality, and can cause respiratory distress (asthma).

Further information:

Human Health Home
GeoHeatlh Newsletter

Air, Dust, and Soil contaminants and Pathogens
Drinking Water Contaminants
Consumption of Bioaccumulative Contaminants
Vector Borne and Zoonotic (animal to human) Disease
Contact With Recreational Waters
Animal Sentinels of Human Health

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URL: http://health.usgs.gov/inhalation/african_dust.html
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Page Last Modified: 05-May-2016@11:28