NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — A thick plume of Saharan dust is expected to reduce air quality in Louisiana this week.

Air quality is expected to be impacted on Monday and Tuesday as southwesterly winds transport a dense area of Saharan dust across the Gulf Coast region, further raising levels of particulate matter in the air.

This may lead unhealthy air, especially for sensitive groups, during afternoon and early evening hours.

Tuesday, concentrations of dust are expected to decrease slightly. However, with high pressure over the Gulf Coast limiting mixing in the atmosphere, air quality levels may not improve much.

Officials say active children and adults, the elderly, and people with respiratory issues such as asthma or COPD should avoid prolonged outdoor exertion.

The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) says area residents are encouraged to take one or more of the following voluntary actions to help reduce the formation of ozone:

• Drive less. Carpool, walk and bike, combine errands and care for your car. Be sure your gas cap is on tight.

• Refuel your vehicle, mow grass and use gas powered lawn equipment and off road vehicles after 6 p.m.

• Postpone chores that use oil based paint, varnishes and solvents that produce flame.

• If you barbecue, use an electric starter instead of starter fluid.

• Take your lunch to work or walk to lunch.

• Conserve energy in your home.