An asthma alert has gone out as a dust storm hits South Australia

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A dust storm has hit parts of South Australia.

Medical authorities are warning people with respiratory and cardiac conditions to take precautions.

Awareness of asthma from storms has increased since several deaths in Melbourne in November 2016 from thunderstorm asthma.

This July is the driest for South Australia since 1999, resulting in low soil moisture levels across the state.

SA Health’s Chief Medical Officer and Chief Public Health Officer, Professor Paddy Phillips, is recommending people with pre-existing respiratory or cardiac conditions stay indoors and follow their personal management plans.

Dr Pawan Sharma, who heads the airways disease laboratory at UTS, says it is important to note that high winds induced-dust storms are a source of fine particulate matter (fPM) especially after a prolonged dry spell.

“This fPM becomes extremely dangerous when combined with moisture and has the potential to exaggerate or precipitate existing respiratory and cardiac conditions,” says Sharma.

“Therefore, care must be taken by people who have pre-existing allergies, such as hay fever, as small particles entering the lungs through the nose and can make people struggle to breathe even if they have never suffered asthma-like symptoms before.

“It is advised that people with pre-existing asthma carry their puffers with them.”

The Bureau of Meteorology says a vigorous cold front is moving across South Australia with strong to gale force winds.

“Areas of dust, particularly over western and northern parts, but possibly extending to central parts,” says the bureau. “Locations which may be affected include Adelaide, Port Lincoln, Whyalla, Wudinna, Roxby Downs and Port Augusta.”

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