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Dust Storms May Lead To Respiratory Issues

Springtime in El Paso means windstorms and lots of blowing dust. This year has been an especially dusty year, even for the borderland.

So far, five days have been rated ”hazardous” by the air quality index. Three of those days were so high they were off the charts.

“The dust levels that were measured at air monitoring stations like this one were the highest we had seen in El Paso in about six years or more,” said UTEP associate professor of geological sciences Tom Gill.

The unusually thick brownouts aren’t just an inconvenience, according to a recent government-funded study done at UTEP, they’re also health hazard.

“There is a connection between days here in El Paso when we have blowing dust and people getting sick, specifically with asthma and bronchitis,” Gill said.

It’s not just sensitive groups like children, the elderly and those with chronic respiratory issues who see problems from the dust. Healthy people can also see symptoms from just a few minutes of exposure.

“My nose gets all cracked up and dry and I have to put Vaseline on. There are times I have to go to the allergy doctor just to get shots,” said UTEP junior Julian Duran.

Dust experts say the easiest way to avoid any respiratory issues, is also the easiest.

“Really the biggest thing to do is to stay indoors, to not go out when conditions are extremely dusty,” said Gill.

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