Spring Brings Frequent Sandstorms: How Can We Protect Our Health?

chinacdc.cn | Updated: 2024-04-10
Spring is the high-incidence season for sand and dust weather in northern China. During such weather, pollutants can directly cause varying levels of irritation or allergic reactions to humans, and sand and dust particles can also lead to a variety of respiratory illnesses. Therefore, it's imperative for the public to take this issue seriously and implement protective measures.
1.What is Sand and Dust Weather?
As defined by the "Grades of Sand and Dust Weather" (GB/T 20480-2017) in China, sand and dust weather is a meteorological phenomenon where sand grains and soil dust are suspended in the air, leading to murky conditions and reduced visibility. The grading of sand and dust weather primarily depends on the horizontal visibility at the time of the event, with wind force also considered. This weather is classified into five levels: floating dust, blowing sand, sandstorm, severe sandstorm, and extreme sandstorm.
2.What are the Health Risks of Sand and Dust Weather?
Sand and dust weather occurs when strong winds lift vast amounts of sand and dust from the ground, causing air murkiness and a decrease in atmospheric visibility. Under such conditions, sand and dust pollutants can enter the human body through eyes, nose, throat, and other mucous membranes, as well as through the skin, causing various degrees of irritation or allergic reactions. Additionally, it can induce diseases of the cardiovascular system, respiratory system, central nervous system, and immune system, adversely affecting human health. The dry air common during sand and dust weather can also lead to symptoms like chapped lips, and dryness in the nose and throat.

3.Sensitive Populations During Sand and Dust Weather
The elderly, children, pregnant women, and those suffering from respiratory or cardiovascular conditions are particularly vulnerable to sand and dust weather. It is advised that these individuals limit their exposure outdoors during such weather, and seek immediate medical attention if symptoms such as chronic cough with phlegm, shortness of breath, episodic wheezing, or chest pain occur. Occupations that necessitate outdoor work, including traffic police, sanitation workers, and construction personnel, should implement stringent personal protective measures.
4. Actions to Take During Sand and Dust Weather
i. Stay hydrated and consume a diet rich in vitamins from fruits and vegetables to maintain clear and moist respiratory pathways, thus easing throat discomfort.
ii. Ensure that doors and windows are closed in a timely manner; if feasible, operate humidifiers and air purifiers to improve indoor air quality.
iii. Employ wet mopping and wiping techniques for dust removal to keep indoor areas clean.
iv. Limit outdoor physical activities and strenuous labor, adopting suitable protective measures when necessary.

5. Personal Protection Measures for Outdoor Activities
i. Wear particulate respirators, such as N95 or KN95 masks, to lessen respiratory tract damage from sand and dust exposure.
ii. Utilize protective eyewear to shield the eyes from sand and dust. In the event that sand enters the eyes, refrain from rubbing; instead, rinse immediately with flowing water or administer eye drops, seeking medical attention if discomfort persists.
iii. Don dust-proof accessories like hats and scarves to protect the skin, hair, and ears from sand and dust, wrapping the head in a scarf for additional coverage.
iv.Upon returning indoors, promptly wash hands and face, rinse the mouth, and clean the nasal passages. If possible, shower and change clothes to maintain personal hygiene and comfort.