Bioscience

UA’s dust research has public health, safety applications

November 3, 2008

By Flinn Foundation

[Source: HEIDI ROWLEY, Tucson Citizen] – University of Arizona research could make it possible to warn people with asthma, allergies and other respiratory conditions days before dust and pollen become health risks.

UA professor William Sprigg and his fellow researchers are using NASA satellites and National Weather Service technology to create dust models, or images, that can more accurately predict when and where a dust storm will occur. Most of the research has focused on the Southwest, including California, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.

Health agencies are interested in the new technology because dust and the pathogens it carries have been blamed for aggravating some heart and lung conditions, including asthma and allergies.

“Today we can forecast pretty well three days in advance when there will be a significant amount of dust in the air and we can tell where that dust will go,” Sprigg said.

He envisions four different applications for what they have learned about how dust travels: