Vulnerable groups in society, like children, the elderly and pregnant women are being warned to stay indoors due to extremely high dust levels in the atmosphere.
An official from the Labour Inspection Department yesterday said the high levels of very small dust particles brought on from North Africa could cause problems and discomfort to these groups or others with breathing problems like asthma sufferers.The Labour Ministry official, Savvas Cleanthous, said dust levels on Sunday were double the usual, while yesterday's levels were estimated to reach three times the normal limit, hitting between 134 and 170 microgrammes per cubic metre.
The current levels will likely remain in the atmosphere in the coming days. "Asthma sufferers, children, pregnant women, the elderly, should not travel around without reason in the countryside, and where possible they should close their windows to stop dust coming into their houses," said Cleanthous.
"Studies show that the smaller the dust, the more dangerous it is, because it gets in the lungs easier," he said, noting that the effect this had depended on the health of each individual.
Meteorological Service official, Philipos Tymvios, said the dust phenomenon was brought from Africa and would likely affect Cyprus for a week, despite forecasting small, local showers for today. As a result, temperatures are also higher, reaching around 28 to 30 degrees Celsius inland, higher than the 25 degrees average for this time of year. Tymvios said he expected a drop in temperature by the end of the week, while dust levels should improve by next Monday.
The Labour Ministry called on workers who operate in open spaces to use the appropriate personal protection against the dust. More information can be found at the ministry website at www.airquality.dli.msli.gov.cy.