For the first time ever, experts from around the world met to address the effects of airborne dust and dust pollution on the global population and begin working towards both short and long-term solutions.
The first ever Africa/Middle-East dust conference took place in 2015 in Amman, Jordan from November 2nd to the 5th. Specialists and leaders came together to discuss the health hazards associated with airborne dust and potential solutions to the problem. The event was hosted by the Barcelona Dust Forecast Center (BDFC), the UNEP Regional Office for West Asia (UNEP/ROWA), and the WHO Centre for Environmental Health Action (WHO/CEHA, the local organizer).
The BDFC reports that the World Health Organization (WHO) determined that particulate matter (PM) directly affects more people than any other form of small matter — the hazardous effects of desert dust on inhabitants of the Middle East and North Africa have long been documented.
The vast majority of studies have found consistent links between long-term PM exposure and the catalyzation of respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and — as a result — greater mortality rates. While the danger to health is well-known amongst researchers, it remains to be determined whether the “crustal, biological, or biological components of dust are most strongly associated with the effects.”
Over 60 experts from the around the world convened to discuss and promote active communication between multinational communities. Attendance was primarily by invitation, but several seats were set aside for non-invitees selected to attend based on their CVs and a letter from their employers professing the business’s interest in attending the conference.
The meeting’s main objectives were to aggregate the international level of informedness on the topic and thereby address possible solutions to the problem. One predicted result of this workshop was a plan for managers, service and health professionals, and policymakers formulated specifically to both raise awareness on the negative impacts of airborne dust and begin creating plans of action to combat it.
According to the WHO-sponsored study ‘Hazard Prevention and Control in the Work Environment: Airborne Dust’, “The first and fundamental step in the control of hazards is their recognition.” In essence, this event makes the first and fundamental step.
Agenda and Itinerary
The workshop was divided into three separate parts. The first included technical presentations by international experts of “dust observation, modelling, and service delivery.” The topics presented were primarily scientific observations and groundwork, including dust cycles and their natural impacts, as well as satellite and ground observations, product delivery, and mathematical and scientific models of dust patterns.
Technical presentations followed and were led by international experts “in the fields of airborne dust, air quality and environmental health.” These presentations focused on the biological effects of dust, as hazardous to human health and safety, while also offering potential strategies for reducing long-term impact. Following this were comparative presentations by the conference participants demonstrating the current status of airborne dust risk in the presenters’ home countries, as well as impact reduction proposals.
In these developing regions, which are rich with natural resources necessary for economic and societal growth, setting standards for safe industrial activities is absolutely essential. Keeping the environment and surrounding communities safe and healthy is just as important as the development that will come with increased production.
How Midwest Dust Control Can Step In
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(Image credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture/flickr)