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SEOUL — Children living in Inner Mongolia have less lung capacity than children living on Jeju island in South Korea, according to a joint study by researchers in South Korean, China and Mongolia.

The study comes amid health concerns with the annual spring dust storms — called “hwangsa” in Korean — that carry heavy metals in dust particles from the Gobi Desert in northern China and southern Mongolia.

The study, conducted March 25-May 5 in 2005, compared lung capacities of 126 children in an Inner Mongolian industrial city with 121 children on Jeju, an island off South Korea’s southeastern coast.

The study found Jeju children were able to exhale an average of 2.1 liters of air; the Mongolians, an average of 1.9 liters.

It also found that an increase of 200 micrograms of dust caused a child to exhale 220 milliliters less air per minute, an amount that can fill a small beverage can, according to an article this week in the JoongAng Daily.

The study was conducted by researchers from the National Institute of Environmental Research in Korea, the School of Public Health at the University of Beijing and Inner Mongolia University of Science and Technology.

Higher concentrations of dust can exacerbate and cause respiratory problems, according to U.S. military medical officials. U.S. officials consider 301-500 parts per million a “hazardous” health concern.

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