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SEOUL — Yellow dust season started Friday, with some areas spiking at more than 1,000 micrograms per cubic meter of air.

Levels dropped back to under 400 by early evening.

The seasonal phenomenon, which typically takes place between February and June, brings dust laden with heavy metals from the deserts of Mongolia and China, causing health concerns for children under age 11, seniors over age 65 and people with heart and breathing conditions.

According to Maj. Clarence Thomas, an environmental science officer with the 65th Medical Brigade, levels above 800 micrograms per cubic meter of air call for a warning to the community.

"At over 800, you should avoid going out," he said.

At levels between 400 and 799, high-risk individuals should avoid outdoor activity, he said, and others should avoid physical training and strenuous outdoor labor.

He described yellow dust storms with levels over 1,000 as very rare.

He said most of the toxic industrial particles that get picked up by the winds are too heavy to make it to South Korea.

The 65th Medical Brigade’s Force Health Protection and Preventive Medicine office maintains yellow dust information, provided to them by the 607th Weather Squadron, online at http://www.seoul.amedd.army.mil/sites/yellowsand/default.asp.

E-mail Jimmy Norris at: norrisj@pstripes.osd.mil

Yellow dust storm tips

According to 65th Medical Brigade, during a yellow dust storm people should:

Avoid outdoor activities, especially the elderly, young children and people with lung diseases (such as asthma), heart disease or diabetes.

Keep windows and doors closed.Remove contact lenses and wear glasses.Brush your teeth and wash your hands, face and eyes with warm water upon returning indoors.Drink plenty of water to keep your tears flowing well.Use air filters to keep air clear and a humidifier to increase the indoor humidity level.Wash fruits and vegetables exposed to yellow sand before consumption.Wash hands carefully before handling food.Don’t burn candles and don’t smoke indoors.Source: http://www.seoul.amedd.army.mil/sites/yellowsand/Info_Card.pdf.


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