Tuesday 30 March 2021

Assessment of airborne endotoxin in sandstorm dust

The impact of sandstorm dust events affects local air quality and public health. These issues are becoming of greater concern in Saudi Arabia. There is a significant lack of research on airborne endotoxin exposure and analysis in the Middle East countries and no coherent body of research exists focusing on sandstorm dust in worldwide. In this study, we used a novel design of an aluminum foil plate (AFP) electrostatic dust cloth (EDC) for the passive air sampling of sandstorm dust. A total of 38 sandstorm dust samples were collected during sandstorm episodes occurring between January and April 2020 in both indoor (7 days, n=20) and outdoor environments (24 hours, n=18). 

After exposure, and following an extraction procedure, bacterial endotoxin levels were measured using the Limulus Amoebocyte Lysate (LAL) gel clot method. The study highlights that the airborne endotoxin level observed was between 10 to 200 EU/m2 in both indoor and outdoor environments, during a sandstorm event. Agricultural activities and farmhouses observed higher airborne endotoxin levels. In general, increased endotoxin levels were related to the severity of the sandstorms. 

Given that the observed values were high as per existing guidelines for respiratory health, we recommend the setting an occupational airborne exposure limit for bacterial endotoxin. This is the first report and further studies across various sandstorm-hit regions will need to be undertaken, together with various sampling methods, in order to assess for seasonal and geographic trends. 


Vijayakumar, R., Alfaiza, F.A., Al-Malkia, E. S., Sandle, T. (2020) Assessment of airborne endotoxin in sandstorm dust and indoor environments using a novel passive sampling device in Al Zulfi city, Saudi Arabia–Establishing threshold exposure levels, Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sjbs.2020.12.0111319-562

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology Resources (http://www.pharmamicroresources.com/)

Monday 29 March 2021

Dealing with Anxiety Amidst the Covid-19 Lockdown


The Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimates that 18.1% of Americans above 18 years suffer from anxiety. Persons suffering from this disorder require immediate medical attention, which is hard to find now that the lockdown is effective.

A guest post by Sara Anderson

Many companies have laid down most of their employees, a move that is causing financial strain in several households. Other stressors coupled up with limited finances are causing Americans to plummet into anxiety.

And while it was easy to manage stress before the onset of the pandemic, things are not the same now. It is essential for persons suffering from this disorder and their immediate family members to learn how to manage the situation at home. Take a look at some of the steps you can take to calm an anxious person before you opt for medical help.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a mental disorder that causes the sufferer to think excessively and uncontrollably about life’s situations. It is relatively easy to spot an anxious individual through the symptoms they exhibit. Some of the most prevalent symptoms of an anxiety attack include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Dry mouth
  • Excessive sweating
  • Fast breathing
  • Fear
  • Lack of sleep
  • Numbness or tingling sensations
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Restlessness

While these are the typical symptoms of an anxiety attack, each person experiences different symptoms depending on their mental disorder.

Anxiety Diagnosis

Before you are diagnosed with anxiety, psychiatrists have to run a series of tests that will determine if you have other underlying conditions masquerading as the disorder or you genuinely suffer from the disease. A typical visit to the doctor will include the following tests:

A physical exam

Your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and how frequently they occur. The psychiatrist will also want to know how long you’ve experienced the symptoms and whether you have stressors that accentuate the situation.

Lab tests

You will also go through several lab tests that will determine whether you have other underlying illnesses, such as hypothyroidism, which may have the same warning sign as anxiety.

The doctor may require additional blood samples to see whether you are under medication that may cause anxiety symptoms. Some of these drugs include levodopa and cyclosporine, which are essential in treating Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriasis.

Once the doctor rules these other possibilities, he will diagnose you with anxiety and offer you a treatment plan.

How to deal with anxiety at home

Anxiety attacks do not have special occasions when they appear. You can have one at home, at work, or in the grocery store. To avoid frequent attacks, you have to prepare your body and mind to handle situations differently. Some simples things you can do to prevent anxiety attacks include:

  • Work on long-term goals you’ve been postponing

There isn’t a better time to focus on long-term goals than when you have plenty of free time in your hands. If these plans do not require any financial muscle, it will be easier to move ahead with them.

Make a timeline of what you want to accomplish and within what timeframes. Section your plan into smaller achievable chunks so that you have something to do every day. Such a plan keeps you busy continuously, thus reducing the time you spend thinking about failed projects.

  • Positive meditation

It is scientifically proven that meditating on positive things improves your mood and reduces stress levels significantly. Scientists from Harvard Medical School show how positive meditation seems to change the brains of depressed persons.

These studies show that depressed people can benefit from mindfulness meditation programs to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety. Set aside some time to think about positive things happening in your life. You can read books on positivity to help you achieve milestones much easier.

  • Stay away from tabloids and non-mainstream media.

Several online publications spread the news that is meant to cause panic amongst Americans and the globe at large. The more you read such news, the more you feel afraid, causing you to panic. And once you indulge these rumor-mongering tabloids, you will find it hard to distract yourself from the information.

Choose mainstream media corporations that you’ll look for when you want to learn about Covid-19 progress. You can also limit the time you spend watching or reading the news to avoid falling into panic mode if you stumble upon tragic news.

  • Take care of yourself.

One of the sure ways to keep you focused on the positive side and healthy is taking care of yourself. Many people do not notice that some of the things they do are detrimental to their health. An unhealthy person cannot battle anxiety because both their mind and body fail them.

Eat fresh, healthy meals, and drink plenty of water. Practice good grooming daily so that you feel good about yourself. Get enough sleep that is essential to keep your mind and body rested. Exercising also helps to keep you in good shape.

Avoid narcotics, especially alcohol and cigarettes, since they weaken your immune system and alleviate anxiety symptoms.

  • Avoid trigger behaviors

If you find yourself experiencing anxiety attacks after a series of behaviors, try your best to avoid these activities. An easier way to ensure you do not fall victim to a vicious cycle of unhealthy habits is to replace each bad habit with a good one.

For instance, if watching the news fuels your anxiety attacks, substitute this with watching movies or listening to music. Whenever you go online to search for Covid-19 related news, train your mind to think of songs and exciting films that you can watch. If you can tag along an accountability partner to help you stay focused, that would be even better.

  • Share your thoughts with others.

Most people who suffer from anxiety fail to talk to others about their fears. This habit is detrimental because it overwhelms the victim. Whether or not you have negative thoughts, talk to your family and friends and let them know how they can help you overcome this menace.

Sometimes, even talking about your day can make a difference, especially if yours wasn’t as exciting.

  • Take your medicine

Antidepressants are drugs that help to suppress sad feelings and help you stay balanced. Doctors say that most of the people who suffer recurrent anxiety attacks fail to follow the medical prescriptions.

Since these drugs suppress anxiety symptoms, failure to take them keeps them surging, which leads you to suffer even harsh attacks. Ensure that you visit your doctor for a drug refill a week before running out of the medication.

  • Talk to a psychiatrist.

Sometimes, you may feel that all your efforts are not bearing fruit. In this case, you can speak to a specialist in anxiety treatment NYC who will help you unravel the emotions and find the cause of recurrent attacks. They may prescribe more potent medication and frequent therapy to help you cope better.


Dealing with depression can be a tasking affair, especially during the lockdown. However, you can use a combination of these tactics to help you stay afloat during this period. And if you experience an attack at home even after taking all the above steps, practice deep breathing techniques to help you relax as you wait to see a doctor.

Remember that it all starts in the mid, so feed your mind with the right material to avoid unnecessary panic attacks.

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology Resources (http://www.pharmamicroresources.com/)

Special offers