High concentrations of yellow dust forecast through Tuesday

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High concentrations of yellow dust forecast through Tuesday

Cityscape of Seoul seen from Mount Namsan on Monday. [JANG JIN-YOUNG]

Cityscape of Seoul seen from Mount Namsan on Monday. [JANG JIN-YOUNG]

 
The yellow dust flying in from Inner Mongolia and the Gobi Desert will spike fine dust levels nationwide through Tuesday, the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA) reported.  
 
“Yellow dust flying in from Inner Mongolia reached the western coasts of Korea by Monday morning, and has traveled over Seoul, Incheon, Suwon, Hongseong and Sokcho by the afternoon,” the national weather agency reported Monday. “The yellow dust is expected to move southeast and cover most of the country.”
 
The level of PM10 fine dust particles in the air as of 3 p.m. Monday was 211 micrograms per cubic meter of air in Yeonpyeong Island, located west of Incheon, 127 micrograms in Mount Gwanak in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi, 125 micrograms in Sokcho, Gangwon, and 72 micrograms in Suwon, Gyeonggi.
 
PM10, or dust particles with diameters less than 10 micrometers, are carcinogenic and travel through the respiratory tract into the bloodstream and may cause strokes, heart disease or lung cancer, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO recommends exposure of no more than a daily average of 50 micrograms of PM10.
 
The KMA added that the PM10 particles, in addition to the smaller PM2.5, will likely lead to worsened air quality throughout the country through Tuesday. According to Air Korea, which is affiliated with Korea’s Ministry of Environment, the levels of PM2.5 around 3 p.m. Monday was 37 micrograms in Seoul, 39 micrograms in Gyeonggi, 27 micrograms in South Chungcheong, 22 micrograms in Daegu and 14 micrograms in Jeju.
 
PM2.5 particles are particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter and about 30 times smaller than the width of a human hair. The WHO describes them as carcinogenic, and studies have pointed to the deadlier effects PM2.5 particles can have on humans, compared to PM10 particles. The WHO recommends daily exposure of no more than 25 micrograms of PM2.5.
 
Rain showers, of up to 5 millimeters (0.2 inches), is expected in the greater Seoul area, however, from Monday night to early Tuesday morning, which may help improve the air quality. The greater Seoul area includes Seoul, Incheon and Gyeonggi.
 
BY ESTHER CHUNG   [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]
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