Saharan dust clouds and human health in the English-speaking Caribbean: what we know and don't know

Environ Geochem Health. 2008 Aug;30(4):339-43. doi: 10.1007/s10653-008-9162-0. Epub 2008 Mar 12.


Dust clouds travel across the Atlantic to the Americas and the Caribbean Islands. This long-range transport of dust leads to clouds that are enriched with small particles less than 10 microm aerodynamic diameter (PM10) which can reach human airways. The dust clouds also bring pollen, microbes, insects and chemicals, all of which could potentially have a negative impact on human health. This has led to a small number of retrospective studies being conducted on the islands of Barbados and Trinidad to look at possible associations between dust cover and acute asthma admissions to Emergency Rooms. The results have been conflicting. This review examines these studies, offers possible explanations for the differences in results, and suggests that there is a need for a prospective Caribbean-wide study to assess fully any relationship between African dust clouds and human respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Africa, Northern
  • Air Movements
  • Barbados / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Dust*
  • Humans
  • Particle Size
  • Respiration Disorders / epidemiology
  • Respiration Disorders / etiology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Trinidad and Tobago / epidemiology
  • West Indies / epidemiology


  • Dust