'Extraordinary' amount of Sahara dust has negative impact on European air quality

An "extraordinary" amount of dust from the Sahara desert has been blowing over western Europe since Saturday. The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) warned on Monday that this phenomenon, which has become more frequent in recent years, is having a detrimental effect on air quality.

The latest large-scale transport of Saharan dust into Europe has been ongoing since 6 April and has led to "elevated concentrations of PM10 particles [which are small enough to pass through the throat and nose and enter the lungs] on the Iberian Peninsula and in certain regions of France and Germany". The European daily standard has also been exceeded at times, CAMS said, and these concentrations will continue to rise in the coming days.

Negative health effets

Exposure to high levels of PM10 can have negative health effects, including triggering an asthma or allergy attack. It can also aggravate certain cardiovascular and respiratory diseases in vulnerable people, such as the immunocompromised, the elderly, children and pregnant women. Dust particles not only turn the sky orange, they also affect the energy sector by deflecting the sun's rays, reducing solar energy production.

At over 9 million square kilometres, the Sahara is the largest desert on earth, stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea. It is the largest source of mineral dust, releasing between 60 and 200 million tonnes per year. While the largest dust particles quickly fall to the ground, the smallest can fly thousands of kilometres and reach Europe.


Dust blown in from the Sahara gives the sky a yellowish appearance above Nice, southern France © PHOTO VALERY HACHE / AFP

Get updates in your mailbox

By clicking "Subscribe" I confirm I have read and agree to the Privacy Policy.

About belganewsagency.eu

Belga News Agency delivers dependable, rapid and high-quality information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from Belgium and abroad to all Belgian media. The information covers all sectors, from politics, economics and finance to social affairs, sports and culture, not to mention entertainment and lifestyle.

Every day, our journalists and press photographers produce hundreds of photos and news stories, dozens of online information items, plus audio and video bulletins, all in both national languages. Since the end of March 2022 English has been added as a language.

For public institutions, businesses and various organisations that need reliable information, Belga News Agency also offers a comprehensive range of corporate services to meet all their communication needs.


Arduinkaai 29 1000 Brussels