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1st Africa/Middle-East Expert Meeting and Workshop on the health impact of airborne dust

When Nov 02, 2015 09:00 AM to Nov 05, 2015 06:00 PM (GMT / UTC0)
Where Amman, Jordan
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World Meteorological Organization (WMO),
World Health Organization (WHO),
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP),
European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) and
State Meteorological Agency of Spain (AEMET)  

are pleased to release the first announcement of the 1st Africa/Middle-East Expert Meeting and Workshop on the health impact of airborne dust that will be held in Amman, Jordan, 2-5 November 2015.

Background

As recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO), particulate matter (PM) affects more people than any other pollutant. PM consists of a complex mixture of solid and liquid particles suspended in the air. Mineral dust is one of its major components and by far constitutes the dominant fraction over most of the Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA) region. In recent years, much of the MENA region is suffering from the increased intensity and frequency of dust storm episodes bringing daily economic activities to a stand-still and causing major public health havoc.  

Most studies have found an association between particulate matter exposure and the exacerbation of cardiovascular disease, cancer, respiratory disease and resulting mortality. The first factor determining the effect of dust on human health is the particle size. The particles larger than 10 μm are not breathable and, therefore, can only cause damage to external organs, such as eye irritation and infection. Particles with a diameter smaller than 10 μm are sometimes referred to as inhalable particles. Most of them are trapped within the nose, mouth, and upper respiratory tract causing disorders there. However, the finest ones may penetrate into the lower respiratory tract until the alveolar region, where they can be incorporated into the bloodstream and therefore affect any organ of the body. A number of studies has also found a link between environmental conditions such as low humidity and dusty conditions and meningococcal meningitis in the called “meningitis belt” of sub-Saharan Africa.

Evidence for an effect of desert dust on human health is increasing, but at the moment it is not clear whether crustal, anthropogenic, or biological components of dust are most strongly associated with the effects. Several new studies reported positive associations between short-term exposure to PM10 or coarse particles and mortality during desert dust episodes. However, the extent of airborne dust impacts on public health in the MENA region is still not well assessed and policy-makers have little awareness of the linkages between environment, health and the national economies. Therefore, a cross sectoral approach is needed to understand such linkages and to come up with integrated strategies to address monitoring, early warning, preparedness, impacts, adaptation and mitigation. This expert Meeting and workshop is the first opportunity to bring researchers, government representatives and international organisations to discuss the topic on a regional scale

Objective

The main objective of the Expert Meeting and Workshop is assess the state of knowledge and encourage countries' actions with regard to impacts of airborne dust on public health in the MENA region. The Expert Meeting and Workshop will promote active communication among dust-related service providers, African/Middle-Eastern national meteorological and hydrological services and relevant national and international environment, air-quality and public health agencies.

An outcome of the workshop will be a set of recommendations addressed to policy-makers, managers, service providers and researchers aimed at raising awareness of the negative impacts of airborne dust on health and designing and implementing preparedness and mitigation measures

Scope

The Expert Meeting and Workshop will cover the following themes:

  • Dust and Air Quality Measurement, Monitoring, Forecasting and Early Warning Systems
  • Air Quality Standards and Indices
  • Dust Causes & Transportation Paths
  • Health Hazards and Impacts Studies
  • Health Services and Preparedness
  • Economic Costs of Health
  • Response and Mitigation Measures on dust and health
  • Inter-sectoral and inter-country cooperation frameworks and mechanisms

The event is targeted to operational meteorologists, environmentalists, air-quality and public health researchers, managers and policy-makers. They are expected to be proficient in English as a working language.

Format

The event will consist of:

A)   A series of technical presentations delivered by international experts in the field of dust observation, modelling and service delivery. Topics will include dust cycle and impacts, ground and satellite observation, dust modelling and forecast, and product delivery. 

B)   A series of technical presentations delivered by international experts in the fields of airborne dust, air quality and environmental health. They will include evidences of the dust impact on health, strategies for mitigation and  dust-related products to improve efficiency in the management of health services.

C)   Presentations delivered by participants. They will show current situation in their respective countries and proposals addressed to both policy-makers and service providers.

Finally, there will be a roundtable to compile the final recommendations of the Workshop.

Organization

Co-chairs: Abdul-Majeid HADDAD (UNEP/ROWA, majeid.haddad@unep.org), Mazen MALKAWI (WHO/CEHA, malkawim@who.int) and Enric TERRADELLAS (BDFC, eterradellasj@aemet.es).

Registration

Although the attendance is by invitation, a few seats are reserved for non-invited participants. Applications including a short (2-page) CV and letter from the employing institution stating interest in the event can be sent before August 15th to dust@aemet.es. Non-invited participants are not required to pay any registration fees. However, they shall cover their own expenses. .

Publication

The abstracts of the lectures and the outcomes of the workshop will be published and distributed online in order to achieve maximum dissemination.

Draft agenda

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