Yellow dust levels spike
May 27, 2007
SEOUL — Red eyes, itchy throats and sinuses run amok.
Yellow dust, the regional nuisance that blows in from the deserts of China and Mongolia, struck South Korea again Friday and people were advised to avoid outdoor activity in some areas.
Meteorologists predicted earlier this month that the worst of the season had passed.
But as of about 5 p.m. Friday, the Daegu area had the highest levels of yellow dust in the air: 389 micrograms per cubic meter. Anything above 300 micrograms is considered “unhealthy” according to U.S. Forces Korea medical personnel.
Other areas that registered levels 300 or higher were Camp Humphreys/Osan Air Base, Gwangju Air Base, Camp Mu Juk/Pohang, Camp Long and Camp Eagle.
Bases that saw dust levels between 150 to 300 micrograms, considered “unhealthy for high risk personnel,” included Yongsan Garrison, Chinhae Naval Base, Kunsan Air Base and Panmunjom.
According to the USFK Web site, children fifth grade and younger, the elderly and people with diabetes, lung and heart conditions are especially vulnerable to the effects of yellow dust.
Officials had anticipated a heavy yellow dust season this year due to droughts in China, but a wetter-than-expected spring kept particle counts lower than usual.
U.S. officials have told Stars and Stripes yellow dust aggravates bronchitis and causes pinkeye, sinusitis, ear infections and respiratory problems. The dust also carries heavy metals from Chinese factories.
Yellow dust levels at each base can be monitored on the U.S. Forces Korea Web site: www.usfk.mil.