Air pollution is a high priority global health concern. The health damaging effects of ambient particulate matter (PM), a component of air pollution, are extensively documented, with 1.4% of deaths worldwide resulting from exposure to PM. A growing body of evidence suggests that mineral dust, found in PM, may contribute to some of these deleterious health impacts. Approximately half of atmospheric mineral dust originates from the Sahara Desert. This systematic but concise review summarizes the findings from recent literature exploring the adverse health effects of Saharan dust particles worldwide. The authors have shown that 1) PM contributes to all-cause and cause-specific mortality and morbidity; 2) the PM arising from Saharan dust contributes to excess all-cause and cause-specific mortality and morbidity; and 3) larger particle sizes may be more harmful than smaller particle sizes. However, there remain many questions regarding their effects on vulnerable patient populations, underlying mechanisms of action, and regional variations in both environmental and health effects. This review highlights the urgent need for continued and deeper analyses of this emerging public health issue. Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 2019;32(6):749-60.
Keywords: Africa; Air Pollution; Northern Africa; Public Health; dust; particulate matter.
This work is available in Open Access model and licensed under a CC BY-NC 3.0 PL license.