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Drought & Dust

Written by Jim Hinckley

June 26, 2021

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Summer is officially here. And scientists are sounding a clarion alarm about a drought of historic proportions. Here in the Colorado River Valley the warnings have an air of unreality. After all the beautiful blue Colorado River with reflections of Laughlin casinos is flowing past Bullhead City. And that river is filled with jet skis and boats, and people enjoying the desert oasis.

The drought is more than just a lack of rainfall. And it is more than just an increased potential for record breaking heat. The drought also means that there will be an increase in dust storms. And that will most likely result in an increase of cases of Valley Fever.

Valley Fever is caused by the Coccidioides fungus spores, which grows in dirt and fields and can cause fever, rash and coughing. It is most common in the west and southwest. It is considered a serious health threat, and cases are on the rise. There are about 15 thousand cases of Valley Fever reported in the United States each year. There are also approximately 200 deaths attributed to Valley Fever.

The World Meteorological Organization using NASA research and satellite data is developing a Sand and Dust Storm Warning Advisory and Assessment System. The goal is an ability to help forecast where dust risk is greatest.

Daniel Tong of George Mason University’s was one of the first scientists to discover the link between a corresponding link between the increase in dust storms and rise of Valley Fever cases. Tong is leading a NASA-funded team to track the airborne spread of Valley Fever across the United States. This will allow epidemiologists, health care providers and public health officials to develop a comprehensive plan.

An interesting component of Tong’s project is a low tech method of dust collecting. Previously, on-site dust sampling was only available through the use of expensive CDC monitors. When more sensors were required  to cover a broader area the team developed an innovative method to capture the airborne dust for a fraction of the cost.

Their homemade dust catchers were made of pans used for baking cakes, and marbles. The concept was simple. Wind passing over the uneven surface of the marbles interrupted air flow causing dust and spores to drop into the pan. This allows for scientists to collect several weeks’ worth of samples at one time.

Tong’s team is forming partnerships with local health agencies like the Pinal County Public Health Department. A network of physicians is now incorporating this data to create a cohesive for testing and public education.

So, what can you do to protect your office, home and family? Call the professionals at COIT Mohave County. Counted among the many services they offer is commercial duct cleaning. This will remove dust, dirt, mold, spores, microbes, and particulates in your HVAC system and air ducts. The certified and background-checked COIT technicians are trained to meet National Air Duct Cleaning Association (NADCA) standards.

For more information about duct cleaning and other available services contact COIT today.

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