Dust storms while detrimental to humans will aid Punjab’s marine life

Residents face threat of respiratory diseases as sandstorms take hold

Asif Mehmood May 22, 2022


As the driest month of the year invites dust storms, those with medical conditions like asthma will wish for rain to fall sooner but for marine life, the dusty winds are a blessing in disguise.

It has been a rough start to summer for the people of Punjab, heat waves coupled with lack of rainfall and power load shedding have made them rue their wishes that the province’s dry winter should end soon. “May is considered to be the driest and one of the hottest months of the year,” said Shahid Abbas, Director of the Meteorological Department in Lahore.

“Temperatures are rising steadily and previous heat records will be broken in many areas. Unfortunately, despite the winds, there is little possibility of rainfall during the month as there is no moisture in the air.” While Abbas’s prediction will have many of Punjab’s residents scratching their heads as to how to avoid the onslaught of the heat - with the youth in Lahore opting for a dip in the infamous Lahore Canal - Dr Salman Tariq, an environmentalist, says that the dusty winds in Punjab’s plain areas are actually beneficial to the province’s marine life. “Scientific research shows that dust and sandstorms have a positive effect on marine life, despite the adverse consequences for humans,” Dr Tariq explained, “the beneficial nutrients in dust and sandstorms, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and iron, positively affect the biochemical cycle in coastal corals.”

As a result, this can increase the productivity of marine life as well as reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide - which is desperately needed as the province’s marine life has dwindled in recent years, as per the environmentalist. Despite the dust storms having a silver lining to them, the mercury is likely to rise in the next few days as per the Meteorological Department, and with rain not likely the dust poses challenges for those with weaker immune systems. Dr Khalid Pervez, an expert on respiratory diseases, said that pollution due to dusty air causes diseases like asthma, sinus, and flu. “There may also be coughs, sore throats, chest infections, and the threat of allergies also increases,” he warned.

Dr Pervez suggested that in order to protect yourself from diseases in such dry and polluted weather, it is important that you stay constantly hydrated. “Drink as much water as possible and include food items in your diet that are a rich source of water,” Dr Pervez suggested while talking to The Express Tribune.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 22nd, 2022.


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