Recently, the World Health Organization's International Association for Research on Cancer classified outdoor air pollution as carcinogenic to humans and puts air pollution in the same category as tobacco smoke, UV radiation, and plutonium. The ambient air is polluted by emissions from motor vehicles, industrial processes, power generation, household combustion of solid fuel, and other sources. Dust storms lead to particulate levels that exceed internationally recommended levels, especially near the Sahara. However, this source of air pollution appears to be under-studied, particularly in the literature devoted to human health impacts in West Africa. More than 50 % of the total dust emitted into the atmosphere comes from the Sahara. These aerosols contribute to increase the concentrations of particles smaller than 10 μm (PM10), which are breathable particles. This study is the first designed to assess the real impact of Saharan dust on air quality and respiratory health of children in a region of West Africa. Dust events having affected the Northern Benin during the dry seasons between 2003 and 2007 were determined. The analyzed health data are the monthly rates of acute lower respiratory infections (ALRI). Over the entire study period, 61 days of dust events were observed in the region. They recorded on average a daily PM10 concentration of 1017 μg m-3, more than 18 times higher than that calculated on all days without dust events. The study also highlighted a mean increase of 12.5 % of ALRI rates during the months recording dust events. The use of daily health data should help to refine these initial results in the future.
- Acute lower respiratory infections