Attack of the Yellow Dust, 2010-3-21, Korean Times Update [link]
By Bae Ji-sook
The Korean Peninsula experienced its worst case of yellow dust ever recorded Saturday and Sunday, leading the weather administration to advise people to take extra care as more is expected this month.
The Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA) posted a special yellow dust warning for most parts of the country Saturday.
[excerpt from The Korea Times]
Thank you for writing an article on the 'yellow dust' situation in Korea. I was interviewed by the Korean Times reporter Bryan Kay several times last summer on a charity expedition I am planning cycling from the Canadian Arctic to Argentina in 2012. I have lived in Korea permanently since 2006 and continually cycle year-round preparing for the future 32,000km bicycle adventure.
Last Saturday, I was cycling along the East Sea north of Gangneung, Gangwon-do when I experienced the first exposure this year to the 'yellow dust.' I rode approximately 3.5 hours around the city of Gangneung and along the new 'green path' designated for cyclists linking Sokcho City to the north. I returned home with the chills and the symptoms worsened over the next 24 hours. I began experiencing a dry headache and intense feeling of dehydration on Sunday. I consumed 6L of orange juice, water and gatorade over the next 12 hours without quenching my thirst. By Tuesday, the conditions worsened as I began losing my voice while teaching at Kwandong University here in Gangneung City, Gangwon-do. By Wednesday, I lost my voice completely and began to experience restricted breathing as swelling had by now encompassed my tonsils, vocal chords, esophagus and finally my lungs began to became affected turning into bronchitis by Thursday. The yellow dust contains numerous materials (including biological effluence) that become active once in contact with human tissues upon inhalation, and in my case, serious exposure (outdoors aerobic activity) requires weeks (3 month recovery in 2008) of treatments to maintain only a limited recovery over a period of a month or more.
My medical treatments include: double injection of antibiotics and a week's supply of antibiotics (assorted prescription pills in one packet), respiratory therapy twice (going back tomorrow morning for the third session). I began coughing up green after 6 days as this mutant dust went through my system. It's like no illness I have ever seen outside of the peninsula...but my second experience here (training on the bicycle in 2008). It's critical to warn cycling enthusiasts to stay indoors and protect their health.
Brian Perich, Adventure Cyclist
http://korean-world.blogspot.com - Blogging in Korea
http://arctic2argentina.com - Preparing for future expeditions & sharing explorer links
An update for 2012: Recent weeks there has been elevated yellow dust levels carried in on the northwesterly winds originating in the Gobi Desert carrying in the toxins (see Wikipedia) from the industrialized northeastern China to Korea, and further Japan to the vast Pacific Ocean. In 2008, 2010, and now 2012 I've been cycling in Korea, with exposures to the dust. I have developed antigens to the dust particles contaminants, and have developed asthma and severe respiratory reactions in these recent years in South Korea. It's serious for some (my two children are vulnerable to illness with exposure too, my wife seems immune to it, she's native to South Korea). This morning, after two weeks of respiratory infections and treatments with antibiotics, I rid myself of the mucous build up in my sinuses. But, I ended up popping a cork on a dark yellow fluid, it ran like a nose bleed and filled the palm of my hand. Very strange event and I wonder about long-term effects if the material is actually toxic to the human body. I stay indoors all weekend, during the week I am teaching and have mild exposures outdoors between buildings. Spring is terrible in Korea, for this reason alone. Protect your health, wear a mask and avoid repeated exposures (too late for me).