Impact of Desert Dust on Air Quality: What is the Meaningfulness of Daily PM Standards in Regions Close to the Sources? The Example of Southern Tunisia

Abstract : Desert dust is now recognized as a major health hazard. However, there still exists a lack of measurements of desert dust atmospheric loads in regions located in the vicinity of the major desert areas, where a growing part of the world population is living. Dust emission is a sporadic and intense phenomenon so that the classical air quality standards should not be appropriate to reflect the real population exposure to desert dust. In order to give some insight to answer this question, PM 10 concentrations were continuously measured at a five-minute time step in southern Tunisia from February 2014 to February 2019. The daily and annual PM 10 concentrations were first discussed according to the Tunisian air quality standards: In this relatively remote area, close to dust source, these standards were respected at the annual, but no longer at the daily scale. Measurements performed at a high temporal resolution (five minutes) allowed to discriminate the different situations that led to exceed Tunisian daily standards in southern Tunisia. In particular, intense (five-minute PM 10 concentrations up to more than 1500 µg m −3) and short-lived (a few hours) dust outbreaks were regularly observed. This result raises the question of the necessity of defining specific air quality standards at the sub-daily scale in countries affected by intense desert dust outbreaks.
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Christel Bouet, Mohamed Labiadh, Jean Rajot, Gilles Bergametti, Béatrice Marticorena, et al.. Impact of Desert Dust on Air Quality: What is the Meaningfulness of Daily PM Standards in Regions Close to the Sources? The Example of Southern Tunisia. Atmosphere, MDPI 2019, 10 (8), pp.452. ⟨10.3390/atmos10080452⟩. ⟨hal-02290161⟩

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