Asthma prevalence increases

The estimated prevalence of asthma among school-aged children has increased significantly and the John Hopkins University will tomorrow unveil the results of a study about asthma here and any impact from the Saharan dust.

An official connected to the university noted that over the past several decades, as global climate changes have lead to excessively dry conditions and severe dust storms in Africa, asthma prevalence has risen in Barbados.

“The estimated prevalence of asthma among school-aged children has increased from one per cent to 16 per cent in the past 35 years. While the reasons for this are unclear, changes in the air quality related to the Saharan dust clouds carried by Trade Winds may be an important contributor.

“It is estimated that 20 million tons of dust particles arrive in the Caribbean annually, leading to airborne particulate matter concentrations in Barbados that frequently exceed the US Environmental Protection Agency standards for acceptable outdoor air quality. There is popular belief in Barbados that Saharan dust worsens asthma, but the studies to date have yielded conflicting results,” said the official.

As such, a pilot study was conducted by Johns Hopkins University to determine whether there is an association between Saharan dust particles and a worsening of asthma symptoms.

The result of this study will be presented by Dr. Meredith McCormack at 5p.m. at the auditorium at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Members of the public are welcome to attend. (LB)

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