A combination of weather conditions, features of the natural environment and human activity can contribute to high levels of windblown dust, or dust storms. High winds can raise large amounts of dust from areas of dry, loose, exposed soil.
In the Luna County area, high winds are most common during the spring. Luna County typically experiences five to ten days a year when dust storms exceed the National Ambient Air Quality standards.
While dust storms are common in this part of New Mexico and are inherent to arid climates, inhaling dust can cause a number of serious health problems and can make some health problems worse. Breathing too much dust can potentially harm anyone. However, those with highest risk of being adversely affected by a dust storm include infants, children, and teens… the elderly… people with respiratory conditions like asthma, bronchitis, COPD and emphysema… people with heart or lung disease… and pregnant women.
The best precaution to take during a dust storm is simply to avoid going outside. If you must go outside, spend as little time outside as possible, avoid hard exercise, and wear some type of covering over your nose and mouth to provide protection from larger dust particles.