Sandstorm warning

Sandstorms from Mongolia carries yellow dust, as well as contaminants including heavy metals, which are bad for skin, eyes, ears, nose and throat. The dust can be noticed now in April in China, Korea and Japan, causing serious health concerns.

Chosun Ilbo has the following advice:

Many people experience cold symptoms during the sandstorms. Even though it is no direct cause of cold, dry weather and the attendant big fluctuations between night and day temperatures make people more susceptible. Drink plenty of water to help your immune system cope. The mucous membranes in the airways dry up easily, which is why experts recommend drinking 1-1.5 liters of water and eating high-protein meals.

I'm not a big sun screen fan, but I do believe they are needed to protect the face. I use SPF 50 and say my prayers...

TVE Earth Report went to the Mongolian Autonomous Region of China where the traditional grassland ecosystem is being eaten away by the desert, vividly showing the causes of this problem.

UNEP, the UN agency for environmental protection, is allocating money in assisting governments with joint work for monitoring and early warning of dust and sandstorms. UNEP's Global Environment Outlook Yearbook 2003, an annual report on the health of the planet, has blamed the increased intensity of the storms on the expansion of the Gobi Desert in China which is threatening the livelihoods of some 400 million people with desertification. More details here, from the UNEP meeting in Jeju, South Korea, 2004.

Update: It was so bad this time in Korea that the National Korean Meteorological Administration chief issued an apology for mistakes in predicting the exact course of the yellow dust storm that hit the Korean penninsula Saturday. Dust levels measured at a high of 2,281 particles per million in a cubic meter of air in Seoul. Officials consider 301-500 parts per million a “hazardous” health concern. The storm left cars, sidewalks and pedestrian handrails covered with a thin layer of dust in the greater Seoul area. More information on the Asian Dust Homepage with video clips.

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