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Yellow Dust Storm of DEATH!

March 19, 2014

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Ah yes. It’s that time of year. Winter is over. Spring is just around the corner. Hope is on the horizon. The cold clenching death of Winter has almost passed. But not yet. While Winter is in its last death throws, it makes sure to fart out its last act of spite: Yellow Dust season.

There’s a lot to say about Yellow Dust and we didn’t talk about it all, simply because it’s pretty difficult for us to talk now. Hot damn it did a number on us yesterday. We don’t usually wear face masks out. I feel really claustrophobic in those face masks. And, hell, did you ever burp in one of those? It’s like hotboxing yourself in nasty gastric fumes. Not fun. But we’ll make ourselves wear them this time of year when the Yellow Dust levels get too high.

A few interesting things we read about Yellow Dust: supposedly it’s a lot worse because of deforestation: the sands would be blocked a bit if there were trees in the path of the wind that carries the dust. South Korea supposedly gave China a bunch of trees to plant to try to help inhibit the Yellow Dust, but China decided to plant them by highways instead, because WHUTCHU GONNA DO TO STOP US? No, I’m sure there’s a better reason for that. Right? There’s gotta be. Guise?

One thing we want to mention, if it wasn’t clear enough in our fumbling around with the topic, is that we’re not scientists and we don’t know the official terms for any of this. I know some people use a different unit of measurement, like PMs, and they measure the size of the particles or something. I don’t know. We use the UUUU-gram measurement, and we’ve found that the crappiness we feel directly corresponds with the higher the u number measurement. So, if you’re in Seoul and want to keep up to date with the air quality, you can follow the Yellow Dust Robot, or you can use this site if you’re not a Twitter user. Soo Zee just uses Naver for her info.

Side note: I remember when we first arrived in Norway when we started our European Tour last year. We flew right from Korea to England, but we didn’t leave Heathrow Airport. From there we caught our plane to Norway. When we got out of the airport in Norway, we freaked out when we smelled how clean the air was there. I was like a dog in a car sticking his head out the window sniffing everything like mad. It was so delicious. The difference is clearly perceptible. For those of you living in countries with clean air, don’t take it for granted. It’s lovely. I wish I could breathe in air like that regularly. I’m actually a bit worried about what the long term effects are of being in a place of poor air quality. How many years of our lives are we tossing away?

So, that’s it for our ramblings about Yellow Dust. Let us know if you’re in the area and you experience it, or if you know anything else about it.

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Yellow Dust Storm of DEATH!

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  1. I live in North Carolina (kinda like at the very middle of the east coast of the US) and any day now we’re probs gonna start getting this icky little green inch worms of dorm. They are every where. EVERY WHEEEEEEEERRRREEEeeee…
    Anyways, they eat away at trees and they fly on these long, sticky, nearly invisible strings of terror. And people run into them all the time and they eat people’s hair and GAH.
    Until they finally show up, we have 50-bajillion kph winds. Yay.

    6 years ago
  2. This question came to mind while I was rewatching some of you guy’s old videos. How is the recycling culture in Korea? Say for example, you guys have moved places several time and lost a ton of weight…so at some point you guys probably had to get rid of stuff that’s still in good condition. Here in the US, there are stores like Goodwill and Salvation Army where people donate their stuff to. Buying second hand stuff here is pretty common and no-big deal…but in Hong Kong (im from there) buying second-hand stuff (antiques being an exception) is not very common. People there tend to assume its unhygienic and only for people who are not that well-off. Besides donating and stuff, im also curious about how eco-friendly Korea is. I’ve heard about how extremely eco-friendly Japan is, from their technology to products to buildings and how they even have people who pick up your recycled stuff everyday.
    Maybe hygiene can be included in the question as well since its somewhat related (clean streets?)…lol i remember you guys talking about how lots of girls in Korea don’t wash their hands after going to the bathroom and fixes their hair instead.

    6 years ago
    • me too! I see people sorting their recyclables on dramas. Seems like there is so much packaging on foods and such. I wonder where the trash goes? Is there much of a tree hugger culture in Seoul? or elsewhere? I wondered about thrift stores/upcycling too. What about an earth day tldr?

      6 years ago
  3. Where I come from in Northern-Norway we don’t have sandstorms or anything like that, what we do have however is millions of mosquito. During the summer there can be so many of them outside our house that all you can see is, literally, a black wall that moves and makes buzzing noises:/

    6 years ago
  4. I know here we have vog and it can make some people feel really shitty, I know once they cancelled a track meet because they were worried about the girls, but still that goes away with a strong enough breeze. Even the pollution in Hawaii isn’t that bad because the breeze just moves it away from us and it’s around the ocean instead. Oh boy, I wonder if my family will complain about this sort of thing when we do our vacations?

    6 years ago
  5. @IndecisiveKPOPer:disqus how far south are you man/woman? The only thing that I can legit remember was when I was in 6th grade we had ash falling from the sky because of a forest fire up in San Bernadino, and the other incident was 2 or so years prior to that when the sun was as red like a lipstick. o-o

    6 years ago
  6. I remember a few years back in Sydney we had this freak red dust storm which blew in from Central Australia. It turned out a lot of asthma sufferers and old people were being hospitalised, planes were grounded and people were encouraged not to go outside etc. I probably should’ve watched the news though because I was walking around without a face mask like ‘I aint scared’ and was completely oblivious to the fact that people weren’t actually going outside. Anyways, I must thank my nose hairs for trapping some of the sand haha ==

    6 years ago
    • I remember that! I’m on the Gold Coast in Queensland, and we got that freaky storm too- the whole sky turned this freaky yellow. The beaches were literally deserted and everything was covered in that awful dust from the desert.
      I think it stuck around for a couple of days?
      I remember seeing photos of Sydney and seeing how you guys got hit pretty hard with the awful stuff. Unfortunately the dust has now been replaced by bush fire smoke these days. :-/

      6 years ago
  7. I feel ya girl~ I’m from the Philippines and damn can it flood. We have a terrible sewage system that clogs so easily especially with all the debris and pollution and what not. It’s so gross to have to step in these waters and they always take too long to subside…

    6 years ago
  8. This reminds me of ozone levels. Here in Texas, where it gets face-meltingly hot in the summer, the heat combined with the daily pollution increases the amount of ozone (O3) in the air. So we get ozone levels for the day of green to red, and if it’s high they recommend that people with sensitive lungs, children, and elderly people avoid being outside as much as possible and not to exercise outside. Most of the summer the ozone is pretty high, but then, I’m not really planning on being outside much when it’s over 100 degrees (or 38 degrees for you)

    6 years ago
  9. I’m not aware of anything that sounds so bad like Yellow Dust here in the USA, BUT I do know a piece of American history that is similar. :)
    In the 1930s in the US, there were dust storms in the mid-west area of the country (and apparently sometimes blew all the way to New York or Washington, DC). It was called the Dust Bowl. It was basically like the Yellow Dust stuff. I don’t know if it caused sickness or anything, but I do know that it was super dangerous because it was literally dirt and it was easy to die if you inhaled too much. Not to mention their crops couldn’t survive very well. A lot of people had to move to California and other not-so-much-farmland places to get away from it.

    There’s also a book that’s a really long poem that is about it… But I don’t remember what it’s called lol.

    6 years ago
  10. Cz

    only odd number plated vehicles can drive? why is that?

    6 years ago
    • Cz

      Oh i see so it’s just to limit the number of cars that can drive on those days… Very interesting… Does that include public transportation like buses? What about on emergencies for example you need to go to the hospital?

      6 years ago
  11. In Trinidad there used to be butterflies crossing the highways long ago like lots of them but now they stopped coming i was too young to remember what it looked like or the time of year it used to happen

    6 years ago
  12. …not sure if this counts, but everyone knows it’s springtime when the local Cal State about 20 miles away makes a massive amount of county around smell like cow-poop. Like super fresh disgusting poop.

    6 years ago
  13. We have the annual “Santa Ana Winds” at southern California, USA. They are supposedly originated from Santa Ana… the city that I live at… -_-‘ but oh well, they are really strong winds! So strong that the trees in the city tend to be tilted!

    6 years ago
  14. wow thats crazy, this is actually great to know for people who want to move to korea. I would probably be freaking out if i didn’t know why i was dying and get really paranod. So thank you if i come to korea at that time i’ll make sure to watch for the levels and etc.

    6 years ago
  15. if it got really bad i would either have to say home or have an oxygen tank with me if i was in Korea. I have bad Ashama so i would be a bit scared to go outside. I will make sure to figure out how much oxygen tanks are during yellow dust. by the way how long does it last for the transition. is it 2, 3, 4, 5 weeks long?

    6 years ago
  16. From what I understand, this yellow dust thing goes by region. So if a nearby city gets a yellow dust warning, consider your place warned as well. It might be a bit worse in big cities, because it tends to trap air, and big buildings block air circulations.

    6 years ago
  17. Yah I am sooooo happy I live in British Columbia Canada, not only do I live here but, I actually live couple hours away from Vancouver in the mountain so I love going to Vancouver during the weekends for fun… but, when I was away for school I realized how much I missed the crisp cold air (I definitely had my windows rolled down on the drive back, even though it was freezing cold lol)

    6 years ago
  18. I think we don’t get bad dust or pollen attacks here where I live in Oregon because we get a lot of rain in the springtime, but come summer the entire West coast has to deal with forest fire season and each summer that I’ve lived in Oregon we’ve had days where it is not healthy to be outside and the news channel and newspaper are very vocal about fire season and when it is safe to be outside…

    The smell of fire gets everywhere, like a constant camp smoke, and it burns the eyes and the nostrils and it’s like second degree smoke in your back yard… So everyone stays inside who can, but jobs still have people go into work and such.

    Yet the most dangerous thing here in Oregon is actually the snow levels. Most everything will get shut down if the snow is bad enough, and this year we had the biggest blizzards I have ever seen! People just couldn’t get into work, and on freezing rain days it was painful to be outside.

    6 years ago
  19. When I used to live in Singapore, haze wasn’t *too* much of a problem until the late 90s/early 2000s, when all the deforestation in Borneo really took off. Luckily, my family and I moved to Australia, otherwise I think my asthma would’ve come back with a vengeance. Philippines-wise, I now tend to shy away from Manila and Baguio, purely and simply because there’s just too many jeepneys/old buses that really should’ve been scrapped but because of money issues are still around.

    On a scientific/medical note, these particulates can be made up of stuff like sand (may be easy to get out of your eyes, but in your trachaea and lungs can scar them, make them inflamed and have the potential to damage DNA), toxic chemicals (again, can diffuse through to your bloodstream, or damage olfactory bulbs), and bits of bacteria or viruses.

    6 years ago
  20. Tiny enough to damage your precious alveolar sacs. *nerdy pathology done*

    6 years ago
  21. Overall my country- Finland- is pretty environmental and healthy. There is no toxic dust storms or anything like that. There isn’t even big earthquakes (not the one’s what will break anything), there is no hurricanes, no tidal waves.. not anything like that. Sometimes there is storms with thunder and wind though and this one year there were big storm and eletricity was cut out in big part of my country. I guess we are really lucky ^^; Even snow isn’t that much of problem here, no avalances though we live in North Europe. Cities are just ready for snowstorms so roads are most of the time clear no matter how much snow has poured. Oh and no volcanoes either! XD

    So.. I don’t have exciting/horrible stories to tell about toxic waste or nature’s catastrophes : I Baddest things that can happen are lighting storms but they are pretty regular else where as well I think :)

    6 years ago
  22. The most recent thing ( since it is March right now ) I can remember about my country is that durring March, three strong northern ( or north-eastern ) wind storms usualy come. The name has the same root I think but here, we call it ” Bura ” .
    And it is not nice.
    By strong I mean that if you live on an island, ships and farries will not sail and sometimes you’re better of in the house.
    Some roads get closed due to the strong wind, trees can get thrown down, things may fly around, etc.
    I was once outside getting my cats out of the garage when the firm door slammed into me after the wind blew it wide open
    ( -.- it hurt…).
    But this wind blows durring the year, mostly winter time. But March is suppose to have 3 strong ones.

    This year, there were two I think. Doubt the third one will come ( but that is just me hoping ). Then again, these past few months ( near the end of 2013 and crossing over to 2014 ) were very different when it came to the weather ( it was warm all the way up to September / November or something, felt like spring more than autumn and even winter- at least where I was ).

    6 years ago
  23. When there was a storm for like a weekend? Ahahahaha. I remember, everyone didn’t want to go outside and complained about how flooded it got. And then you have me “I want to be outside!!” Why? I missed the rain XD

    6 years ago
  24. Singapore has the haze and we have hit the level where you literally just don’t want to go outside without a face mask (it hit like 500 last year) or if you are like me,just take in the lovely smell of trees being burnt in indonesia *sarcasm*

    6 years ago
  25. It was rising like a PSLE aggravate score at that time LOL but it did come back in march lol but it did not hit 100

    6 years ago
  26. I know what I’m doing after work today. Buying a face mask! Only one of my co-teachers wears a mask to school, though.
    Also, my elementary kids sometimes wear adorable masks to school when they’re sick. I’ve seen Rilakkuma, Doremon, and Hello Kitty. Though I’d really prefer if they stayed home when they’re sick…

    6 years ago
  27. Wow that sounds just horrible. I’m definitely appreciating the air in Montreal (though it is a big-ish city it’s pretty clear). The most similar thing we get here only lasts a few days over a couple weeks and is restricted to neighbourhoods with more greenery, which really isn’t bad at all. It looks like it’s snowing but instead of flakes it’s these fluffy fibrous seeds and a metric shit ton of pollen. It’s really pretty to see, but the moment you step outside you can’t take a breath without inhaling a fistful of them. I do feel for those who are allergic =S

    6 years ago
  28. then here is singapore complaining about reaching 400 at our maximum

    6 years ago
  29. Yes, it happens in New Jersey too. Apparently Cicadas live most of their lives in the larvae state, which is why they only transform every 13 years. They mate then die and all the animals in the area go nuts and eat all those dead guys. Gross. But it is such a big deal the BBC came to US to film it happening.

    6 years ago
  30. I just know they us it to measure caffeine in drinks.

    6 years ago
  31. S&M: Do you guise make kimchi at home? If you do, that would be a fun video to see! :)

    6 years ago
  32. In the UK, not very often maybe like once every 2 years or something we get sand from the Sahara Desert and this like sand/dust covers cars and makes them dirty. But I don’t think it’s toxic or anything but like I said before it barely happens.

    6 years ago
  33. I get itchy eyes & cough-y when I’m around dust normally cause I’m allergic (being in dusty places or when I clean my room especially).. I can’t imagine how bad my allergies would be if I were in Korea with the yellow dust (even if it’s not only dust stuff).

    Here, I don’t think we have many super bad things.. The only thing we really have to worry about here is hurricane season & the heat in summer (I’m in Florida).. We also have a lot of mosquitoes where I am, so if it’s been rainy/hot (aka summer) & you go out at night, you just get assaulted by them. Oh, which reminds me of “love bugs” who are harmless, but also LOVE to assault & bother you when they’re here.

    6 years ago
  34. Don’t think we have anything like that here is Southern California. But we do get a lot of fires in the summer, during the fire season is when we get really bad air quality. The sky gets grey but its all smoke and ash. The streets and cars get covered in white, its all ash. It gets everywhere, if you aren’t careful it will get into your house and it will just look like thick layer of dust. The sun gets really bright red – thats how you know that the “clouds” covering it aren’t clouds but smoke. And on top of that it gets REALLY hot. We had three wild fires in one year a while back, schools had to be cancelled because it wasn’t safe for people to be outside. Even during passing period, going from one class to another you would get all wheezy and start chocking. It was all the ash in your lungs.

    6 years ago
  35. And then you became… The Eat Your KimCheese Crew. :D

    Also it’s rennet, Martina! Good luck on your next attempt! :D

    BTW… My “yearly disaster” is what you guys already know: ICE STORMS~! That was fun, but luckily not that bad every year!

    6 years ago
  36. I lived in (and never left) Jasper, Alberta for a few months one summer. The air was so clean it was bizarre. When I visited Vancouver at the end of my trip I was almost relieved to breathe in the smog as it reminded me of home lol

    6 years ago
  37. I personally haven’t experienced Yellow Dust or anything like it here in Florida, BUT! My family is from Trinidad/Venezuela, and I hear from them about something similar. African Sand??? Something like that. Everything you described about Yellow Dust sounds EXACTLY like what they were talking about. From what I recall, during a certain time of the year, sand from Africa blows all the way over the ocean and into Trinidad to make their lives miserable. Cover up guys! Breathing in that stuff does not make for happy time!

    6 years ago
  38. I live in north Texas, and some years we get tornadoes everywhere, but I feel really bad for Oklahoma because every year like entire towns are obliterated from tornadoes. Yet they keep building there? Idk, but it’s really scary. And because weather in Texas is so ridiculously unpredictable, it literally can be ANYTIME of the year, though generally it’s between March and August. And there has to be storms usually for one to start. There’s been a bit of a drought so there haven’t been very many the past few years.

    Two Christmas Eve’s ago, there was snow EVERYWHERE, it was below freezing, the snow was a few inches high (which is a lot for where I’m at, Snow is a relatively new thing that’s been happening the past few years) and then we woke up Christmas day and it was like 75 degrees (which is ~25 Celsius I think?). That’s how inconsistent this shit is xD BUT I DIGRESS THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ANYTHING I’M SORRY ;~;

    Anyways, because Texas is so big, everything is kind of spread out and sprawling, so I don’t think there’s really any pollution problems that you can’t get away from. And even in Downtown, while it’s noticeable to me because I’m kind of sensitive to that stuff, it’s not that bad xD

    6 years ago
  39. My sister went to Shanghai last year, and she had no idea it was yellow dust season. It was early in the morning so it was misty. She thought it was just mist but when she got back to the place she was staying at (she was there as a part of an art exhibition), they were asking her why she wasn’t wearing a mask and stuff.

    She then got really sick afterwards, and when she came back to NZ, she had this terrible fever and stuff.

    6 years ago
  40. Nev

    Just got back from our month in Korea and Japan, back home to to Scotland, and oh my god! The air quality difference is huge! Even in London the air seemed fresher than in Seoul. But when I got home to my leeedle island I felt I could breathe and didn’t have to chew air that had already been chewed a thousand times before. I’m glad I visited, but I wouldn’t be able to live there :/

    6 years ago