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High dust levels to retreat

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High dust concentrations affecting the island are expected to decrease in the next few days with rain showers forecast, according to the Met Office.

In comments to Alpha TV, the director of the island’s meteorological services, Kleanthis Nicolaides, said that Monday marked the drop of extremely high dust levels, especially on the coast.

Dust levels on Sunday were well above healthy limits, with air quality measurements on the coast recording dust concentration in the atmosphere of around 800 to 850 μg/m3, way above the 50 μg/m3 safety ceiling.

“The situation will definitely improve,” he said. “By this evening, dust levels are expected to return to more normal levels,” said Nicolaides.

Nicolaides confirmed that both the frequency and duration of dangerous dust levels in Cyprus have increased in recent years.

“In the past ten years, phenomena such as the one affecting the island over the weekend now occur throughout the seasons.”

The Met Office director said it is one of the consequences of climate change, as indicated by all scientific studies on the matter.

“Human activities have caused a disturbance on the desert surface, making it much easier for the dust to be lifted and carried away, even very far.”

The latest dust episode originated in Libya and Egypt.

Asked about the likelihood of a new dust wave, Nicolaides said: “It is very likely, although it is difficult to forecast any scenario”.

He explained that in the case of strong winds coming from North Africa, Cyprus would be experiencing high dust levels once again.

Rain was expected on Monday and Tuesday, helping dust levels to drop.