It’s an unusual event to see dust storms in the United States, but with climate change, there have been more unusual natural disasters occurring. Dust storms are generally large walls of quickly moving dust and fine particles that suddenly arrive. The storm forms in a dry region as the particles in fine soil are picked up and blown into the air. Interestingly, dust storms can be up to several thousand feet high and 100 miles wide.
Dust storms are common in the Southwestern United States, but other parts of the United States are going to see them this year in 2020. With dust storms, workers do need to be cautious. Exposure to the dust in a dust storm can cause various health effects such as runny noses, wheezing and coughing. Workers with asthma or respiratory conditions may find it difficult to work outside.
Dust storms also reduce visibility, which is something to be cautious with. If you need to drive for work, fly or even work outdoors, you may find that you can’t see well. If you’re unable to work safely because of low visibility, stop what you’re doing and wait for the storm to pass.
Dust storms can also carry fungal spores that can lead to Valley Fever. This is a fungal infection that can cause chest pain, coughing and fevers. This disease usually appears within three weeks of the event.
As a worker experiencing a dust storm for one of the first times, it’s smart to talk with your employer about how you can stay safe. Good protective measures can make a difference in your health and the safety of your work environment.