Saharan dust, not ‘chemtrails’, responsible for substance left behind by rain in Wales

22 June 2022
What was claimed

A substance came down in the rain from the chemtrails that planes are leaving, and this is what they say is condensation.

Our verdict

The substance is not from chemtrails, which do not exist, but is instead likely dust from the Sahara deposited by rainfall.

A man has shared a video on Facebook in which he claims that dust on his patio table is actually the result of “chemtrails” left by aeroplanes.

In the video, the man uses a cotton pad to wipe across his table, picking up a rust-coloured substance.

The man claims that the substance “came down in the rain overnight from the chemtrails that these planes are leaving, and this is what they say is condensation.”

“That’s filth, guys, and you’re breathing it in, your kids are breathing it in, your plants are absorbing it, the water has been absorbing it.”

The substance is not a product of chemtrails, which do not exist, but rather more likely a result of Saharan dust which settled in the atmosphere over Wales this weekend. The man, who appears to be based in Wales and speaks with a Welsh accent, says that his video was taken at around 9am on 19 June, which would coincide with the reports of the dust. 

Saharan dust is a weather phenomenon which occurs when a mixture of sand and dust from the Sahara desert is lifted into the atmosphere and carried by strong winds. The dust can travel vast distances, and according to the Met Office is “relatively common” in the UK.

Dust particles in the atmosphere can be collected by raindrops as they travel down towards the ground, and once the water evaporates, a layer of orange-red coloured dust can often be seen on surfaces. This phenomenon has been seen across the UK on several occasions over recent months, and residues have been reported in Wales before.

So, while the man may be correct to say that the dust “came down in the rain overnight,” the substance deposited on his patio table was not a chemical sprayed by planes, but more likely Saharan dust deposited by rainfall.

What is the “chemtrails” conspiracy theory?

The chemtrails theory claims that white lines left behind by planes in the sky contain chemicals which are being used to either spread poison or control the weather. 

These white lines are actually condensation trails, or contrails—long thin lines of cloud which form when water vapour produced at high altitudes by aeroplane engines freezes as it is released into the cold air surrounding the aeroplane.

Depending on the humidity of the air, the frozen vapour can either change quickly from a solid to a gas and disappear quickly, or remain as water droplets or ice crystals, creating the white lines in the sky which can remain visible for several hours.

As part of our work fact checking online misinformation, Full Fact has seen an increase in the number of posts referring to the chemtrails theory, several of which we have previously written about.

Image courtesy of Miryiam’s Fotos

This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as false because the substance is not from chemtrails, which do not exist, but is instead likely dust from the Sahara deposited by rainfall.

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