Hundreds of millions of tons of mineral dust are transported thousands of miles through the atmosphere from the Sahara and Sahel of Africa to the Caribbean and the Americas every year.
We are investigating whether African dust is playing a role in coral reef declines throughout the Caribbean region, and if African dust has a negative effect on human health. If so, what processes are involved?
We are sampling dust in the air (aerosols) in the dust source region (Mali), off the coast of Africa (Cape Verde Islands), and at downwind sites in Tobago (southeastern Caribbean) and St. Croix (U.S. Virgin Islands, northeastern Caribbean) for laboratory toxicity testing, and for identification of chemical and biological contaminants.
Testing the toxicity of dust on marine organisms, microorganisms including pathogens, and humans (human cells and fluids) is the next step.