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Dust storms can be just as suffocating as pollen during spring and summer

Dust storms can make even suburban areas look like deserts.

Depending on where you live, air quality tends to deteriorate around this time of the year. Much of the problem is attributable to high pollen counts, which are a direct result of trees, grass and flowers going through their annual blooming processes.

In some parts of the country – particularly in the Southwest – dust storms are also a fairly regular occurrence in the spring in summer. Brought on by dry weather and high winds sweeping through low-lying areas, these storms can swallow a region with little to no warning whatsoever.

The U.S. Geographical Survey has also determined that increased temperatures, brought on by global climate change, has killed plants whose roots would otherwise been able to hold soil together. In areas where these plants are not as common as they once were, soil is free to be blown around by even the slightest wind gusts.

One state that is all too familiar with these types of storms is Arizona. Last July, Wired described the scene when one of the most powerful such storms in three decades swept through Phoenix.

"The storm resulted from thunderstorm-cooled air plummeting into the ground like mist pouring from an open freezer, only exponentially more powerful," magazine contributor Brandon Keim wrote. "Combine those winds with extremely dry conditions and the result was a wall of dust 100 miles wide and 5,000 feet high."

On particularly windy days, individuals who are likely to be affected by dust may be off remaining indoors. Windows and doors should be closed for as long as possible, and homeowners may even begin operating a HEPA air purifier to remove particles from the air. If individuals need to step outside for any reason, wearing a mask or placing a handkerchief over their mouth is advised. 

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