Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Yellow Dust

I got an email today, and I wanted to take some time to comment on it.

Good Tuesday!
It's the last cold snap from today.
So please wear warm cloths and stay warm!
Some people think it's spring. but March is the last cold you need to take care of your health!
Also, we have yellow dust in March.
Please get your mask when you walk outside for a long time.

What is yellow dust?
Asian Dust' (also yellow dustyellow sandyellow wind or China dust storms) is a seasonal meteorological phenomenon which affects much of East Asia sporadically during the springtime months. The dust originates in the deserts of Mongolia, northern China andKazakhstan where high-speed surface winds and intense dust storms kick up dense clouds of fine, dry soil particles. These clouds are then carried eastward by prevailing winds and pass over China, North and South Korea, and Japan, as well as parts of the Russian Far East. Sometimes, the airborne particulates are carried much further, in significant concentrations which affect air quality as far east as the United States.
In the last decade or so, it has become a serious problem due to the increase of industrialpollutants contained in the dust and intensified desertification in China causing longer and more frequent occurrences, as well as in the last few decades when the Aral Sea of Kazakhstan started drying up due to a unsuccessful Soviet agricultural program.

After strong dust storms over the weekend weather experts issued a rare level five pollution warning on Sunday advising residents to stay indoors.
With a dust density of roughly 2,8-hundred micrograms per cubic meter the Korea Meteorological Administration said Saturday's storm was the worst to hit the country since it began recording dust storm data in 2003.
On Saturday tons of yellow dust was also dumped on Chinese capital Beijing as a sandstorm caused by a severe drought in the north and Mongolia swept through the city.
Have a blessed day!

In Christ,

Now, I know that it's tempting, upon reading this, to conjure this image in your mind:
But if this is what you're thinking, you would be very much mistaken.  Personally, I struggle to see the stuff in the air at all, no matter what the dust count is.  On its worst days in Korea, it may look like this in Seoul:
Now, I know this is a drastic difference, and you may think I'm crazy for not being able to notice it in my every day life, but let me qualify that by pointing out that this is an aerial shot, and it rains a lot this time of year, so it's sometimes hard to tell the difference between an impending storm and the yellow dust haze.  (BTW, I borrowed this photo from the mysterious j.m. who spent a year in Seoul back in 2007/08.)  Mostly, this is my yellow dust detection method:
These are the "masks" to which Jenny referred.  They're quite common here; people wear them when they're sick and just keep going to work, and people wear them when the yellow dust is out.  But, more than anything, they serve to help you know what it feels like to slowly suffocate (you can tell that I love wearing these things).  Yeah... mostly, I don't wear them, but, when I see them out, I know to at least do this test:
After which I may choose to hold my breath while running around... or at least close my windows.  But there is also the Korea Air Quality Tracker, which is actually a rather slick website that allows you to follow the air quality every day.  Like every Korean website, it runs better in Internet Explorer 6 (in fact, I can't even get it to load in Chrome), but if you want to follow my air quality (in case you're into that sort of thing), you can find Chungcheongnam-do province, then Cheonan-si.  Today, I only see blue dots, probably because of the rain, but the arrival of the email did make for an excellent sharing opportunity.  Now you can say that you know a bit more about Korean culture.


  1. It just makes me think of pollen. But man I would hate having to wear those masks :/

    1. Well, poisonous pollen. This is what caused my horrible disease-ment last year. I didn't wear a mask then, and I won't now. I can't STAND them!