Professor’s instruments detect air quality change as dust plume moved across Northeast Arkansas

Professor’s instruments detect air quality change as dust plume moved across Northeast Arkansas

JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - The Saharan dust plume brought hazy skies and nice sunsets across a good portion of the South, including Arkansas, it may have also had a physical impact on our health.

Dr. Troy Camarata is an assistant professor of basic sciences at the New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University and has been studying air quality in Northeast Arkansas since 2018.

On Saturday, his equipment picked up an interesting signal, higher levels of particulate matter in the air. That is thought to be one of the most harmful components of air pollution.

Dr. Camarata said that the air quality in Northeast Arkansas is normally good.

“But we did pick up and get to visualize the increase in air pollution, which was from the Sharan dust cloud moving through the area,” Camarata said.

He said in terms of air quality, the air was in the moderately unhealthy range for most of the day Saturday.

He said that due to the particulate matter being so small, they can be absorbed by our cells and enter our cells and breathed in easily.

People who suffer from respiratory issues may have had trouble breathing.

“People who are sensitive to air pollution, to those people with cardiovascular or any type of respiratory disease like asthma or COPD might find it difficult to breathe if they were spending a lot of time outside,” Camarata said. “Anyone above the age of 65-year-old can also be susceptible and young children are also susceptible populations.”

He said after seeing the elevated levels on Saturday, the air quality was much better on Sunday and Monday.

He said he doesn’t expect to see long-term impacts on Arkansans due to the dust plumes.

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