Yellow dust descends on U.S. posts in South Korea
SEOUL — Every U.S. military installation in South Korea experienced hazardous yellow dust conditions Sunday as a huge storm crept across the peninsula, stinging eyes, burning throats and prompting the military to issue health advisories.
Officials track the number of dust micrograms per cubic meter of air; U.S. Forces Korea considers 500 to 1,000 micrograms “very unhealthy” and more than 1,000 micrograms “dangerous.”
U.S. camps Long and Eagle registered 2,109 micrograms during a 4 p.m. reading. Every other U.S. base saw levels above the 1,000 microgram mark during the day.
The dust — blown across the sea from China and Mongolia and dumped on the peninsula annually — carries heavy metals that aggravate bronchitis and can cause pink eye, sinusitis, ear infections and respiratory problems.
American Forces Network television officials ran an announcement across the bottom of the screen Sunday to warn residents of the health concerns.
South Korean officials also issued their own “yellow dust alarm” Sunday, according to local news reports.
Visibility in Seoul dropped from the normal six miles to about 1½ miles, according to the Yonhap news service. The last time a yellow dust alarm was issued in Seoul was in early April 2006, according to Yonhap.