Fellows in the News

A massive plume of dust from the Sahara Desert is drifting across the Atlantic Ocean and is expected to blanket parts of the Southeastern United States this week.

The enormous dust cloud — which some experts say could be the biggest and most intense Saharan plume in 50 years — could aggravate health problems, including asthma and other respiratory illnesses, and make visibility difficult on the ground.

"Dust particles are what we call particulate matter, and we know that breathing in fine particles of anything is not good for the respiratory tract — especially people who are sensitive to poor air quality," said Thomas Gill, a professor of geological sciences at the University of Texas at El Paso.

The added dust pollution may be particularly problematic in light of the coronavirus pandemic, because COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, is a respiratory illness.

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