Sand storms in Korea

Photo credit: AsiaOne

The worst winter seasonal yellow dust in five years blanketed the Korean Peninsula, prompting the authorities to issue health warnings against the sandy, chemical-laden wind from China, according to domestic media.(AFP)

Yellow dust worsens in Korea

The Korea Herald/Asia News Network

Yellow dust swept into Korea on Sunday carrying with it fine dust particles that contain various pollutants, including carcinogens.

Although the yellow dust phenomenon occurs primarily in the spring, the country was hit on Monday by what the Korea Meteorological Administration said was the worst winter yellow dust in five years, resulting in the issuing of the sixth yellow dust warning since 2002.

On Monday morning, the KMA issued a yellow dust warning for Seoul which was subsequently lowered to an advisory in the late afternoon.

A yellow dust advisory is issued when an average concentration of more than 400 micrograms per cubic meter of PM10 particulates is expected to last more than two hours.

A warning is issued when a PM10 concentration of more than 800 micrograms per cubic meter is predicted.

PM10 refers to very fine airborne particles that are 10 micrometers or less in diameter ― less than one-seventh the diameter of a hair strand.

While children, the elderly and the infirm were advised to stay indoors, most Seoulites went about as normal, hoping that the mask that they were wearing would offer some protection.

However, regular cotton masks are ineffective against dust particles measuring 10 micrometers or less.

These particles are so fine that when inhaled, they can lodge in the lungs. Doctors have reported a sudden spike in the number of patients coming in with respiratory problems since Monday, attributable to the yellow dust that blanketed Seoul.

It seems there is no escaping the yellow dust plague.

Yellow dust originates in the deserts of southern Mongolia and northern China.

Read the full article: AsiaOne

Author: Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.

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