Yellow dust from China found to be radioactive

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Yellow dust from China found to be radioactive

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A blanket of yellow dust from China covered Seoul for more than two hours Saturday. [NEWSIS]


Yellow dust blowing over Korea from China every year is believed to contain radioactive material presumed to have been leaked from nuclear power plants in the neighboring country, a state think tank said yesterday.

Small amounts of cesium-137, a highly radioactive material, have been detected in Korea’s air and soil between February and April - when the dust gets most serious - over the past 10 years, the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety said in a report submitted to an opposition lawmaker.

Yellow dust - fine sand blown from the Gobi Desert in China and Mongolia every spring that sometimes includes toxic chemical smog emitted by Chinese factories - can cause respiratory disorders.

The atmospheric concentration of cesium-137 reached 252 becquerels per cubic meter, especially when the yellow dust continued for up to 11 days, the institute said. The most recent figure was 89.6 becquerels per cubic meters, a relatively high amount, measured for three days in March last year.

On Saturday, Korea was put under the first yellow dust advisory of the year.

Because the substance mostly is a product of artificial nuclear fission, it usually does not occur in nature to any significant degree until nuclear weapons testing begins.

A cesium concentration of more than 50,000 becquerels per cubic meter is considered harmful to the human body.


Yonhap

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