Plume of Sahara dust causes spike in European air pollution

9 February 2021, 09:54

Skiers wearing protective face masks sit on a chairlift as Sahara sand colours the snow and the sky in orange and creates a special light atmosphere in the Alpine resort of Anzere, Switzerland
Switzerland Weather. Picture: PA

The cloud of fine sand blown northward from Algeria tinted skies red and mixed with snowfall in the Alps and Pyrenees, leaving slopes looking orange.

A plume of Sahara dust that has blanketed parts of southern and central Europe in recent days caused a sharp rise in air pollution across the region, researchers have said.

The European Commission’s Copernicus satellite monitoring programme said measured levels of particles smaller than 10 micrometres – so-called PM10s – spiked in cities such as Barcelona, Lyon and Marseille on Sunday.

A cross-country ski track covered with sand at La Fouly in the Val Ferret, Switzerland
A cross-country ski track covered with sand at La Fouly in the Val Ferret, Switzerland (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)

The cloud of fine sand blown northward from Algeria tinted skies red and mixed with fresh snowfall in the Alps and Pyrenees, leaving slopes looking orange.

While PM10 particles can enter the lungs, causing breathing difficulties, asthma attacks and other health problems, the concentration of Sahara dust did not reach levels considered harmful.

By Press Association