Collecting and Characterizing Saharan Dust and Associated Pathogens for Evaluating Disease Risk across the Meningitis Belt and Cape Verde

Dust blows across a sandy landscape in the Sahara
Project Type
April 2016
Research Themes
A research team is studying the links between air pollution and respiratory disease in West Africa, where Saharan dust and biomass burning aerosols are common.

Degraded outdoor air quality leading to respiratory disease in West Africa is caused by natural and anthropogenic sources of particulate matter (PM). The natural sources of PM are Saharan dust aerosols while anthropogenic sources of PM include urban air pollution and biomass burning aerosols (BBAs) during the Northern Hemisphere winter, spring, and summer seasons. Surface PM concentrations are highest during the winter and spring seasons when observed PM10 concentrations in Dakar, Senegal often exceeds the US EPA standards hazardous levels of 425 µg-m-3. Dust aerosols can impact the upper and lower respiratory tract, while biomass burning aerosols are likely to impact the lower respiratory tract because of their smaller sizes. 

In the proposed work, we plan undertake a 1-year study, beginning summer of 2016, of PM measurements in dusty (Cape Verde), biomass burning (Ivory Coast) and mixed regimes (Senegal, Burkina Faso) in West Africa based on on-site field measurements; In addition, we will collect dust samples and analyze the samples for pathogens at Cheikh Anta Diop University (UCAD) in Dakar, Senegal. Predictive models for PM concentrations are evaluated within the aerosol network; the prediction of past dry season meningitis cases in Senegal and Burkina Faso will be evaluated using statistical and dynamic models. The goal of this work is to examine the linkages between observed and forecasted air quality and respiratory disease in Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Ivory Coast, and Senegal where Saharan dust and biomass burning aerosols are present. 

Second, could you please share with me any updates to the project, including publications or any funding updates that have stemmed from this seed grant? We continue to look for news to share and opportunities to document project success.  

Resulting Publications

  • Marone, A., Kane, C. T., Mbengue, M., Jenkins, G. S., Niang, D. N., Drame, M. S., & Gernand, J. M. (2020). Characterization of bacteria on aerosols from dust events in Dakar, Senegal, West Africa. GeoHealth, 4(6).