May 19, 2007

Toxic African dust cloud alert

Trajectory of the toxic African dust cloud
La Prensa, Honduras

A giant cloud of toxic dust from the Sahara, Africa, is headed in a direct line toward Central America, especially the coast of Honduras, Nicaragua, and Belize. COPECO, Honduras' national emergency agency, recommends taking precautionary measures, such as not working outside.

According to today's La Prensa, the cloud, moving at 20-30 km. per hour (12-19 miles per hour), currently measures 1,200 by 800 km. (746 by 497 miles).

According to the US Meteorology Service, the cloud was over Venezuela on Friday, and will be over Honduras today and tomorrow. According to Central American experts, the cloud is carrying 2 parts per million of mercury originally from African mines as well as pesticides whose use is prohibited in developed countries but are frequently used in the north of Africa. They also mentioned that it will bring microorganisms which will cause respiratory problems, principally in the Caribbean region. The most impact will be in the coastal zone and it may leave a fine layer of reddish dust.

In the same article, the head of Honduras' Meteorological Service said yesterday that there was no evidence that the cloud contains toxins. What's a person to believe?

Trying to do some research on African dust, I found that this phenomenon of it coming to the Americas has been happening for years and is considered to be one of the causes of the destruction of the coral reefs of the Caribbean.

Below is a picture of an African dust cloud. Pretty impressive, huh?

We've already been suffering from a smoky haze in Honduras for about a week and now this! I've had a mild headache and a slight sore throat for three days now.

I never dreamed I'd have to worry about African pesticides contaminating my organic Honduran soil.

Cough, cough.
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