“Climate Change Fuels U.S. Dust Storms With Dire Health Consequences”

“Respiratory ICU admissions spike in the wake of such storms, which are becoming more common across the American Southwest.”

“Dust storms—those billowing walls of sand and dirt often seen seen in the more arid regions of the world—doubled in the American Southwest between the 1990s to 2000s.

Data now suggest these weather systems in the U.S. may be associated with increased intensive care unit admissions.

The phenomenon, worsened by accelerating climate change, was the subject of the first national study on how they affect the U.S. Dust storms were associated with a 4.8% increase in local admissions to ICUs on the day of the event. Respiratory admissions increased by 9.2% on the day of the storm and again by 7.5% five days later. This second increase could be due to several causes, the authors write, including a slowly worsening respiratory condition, a lack of access to care, or conditions with a longer incubation period such as meningitis or influenza.”

Breanna T Bradham reports for Bloomberg July 2, 2020.