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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 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
  2. 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
  3. @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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  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. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. I just know they us it to measure caffeine in drinks.

    6 years ago
  12. 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
  13. then here is singapore complaining about reaching 400 at our maximum

    6 years ago
  14. 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
  15. 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
  16. 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
  17. 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
  18. Tiny enough to damage your precious alveolar sacs. *nerdy pathology done*

    6 years ago
  19. 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
  20. 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
  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. WE GET A DUST. AND IT IS YELLOW. But I’m pretty sure it’s pollen and it just murders everyone here in Vegas for a few months every year. @[email protected] You wake up to a thin layer of yellow dust on everything outside. And especially cause it’s soooo windy here. You aren’t even safe inside. @[email protected]

    6 years ago
  23. Well the UK’s been battered by storms and heavy rain all winter. However because I live on a series of hills, my unsympathetic and at times rather cruel side can only laugh at those who live in houses built on floodplains. I went to France in February, and it turns out the flooding this winter has had pretty wide coverage across Europe. Is Somerset still underwater? Anyhoo, at least stuff like this is quite exciting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZuY1zngAPQ

    Although not exactly local, it’s not too far along the coast from me. It’s amazing the person who filmed this was there in the right place at the right time.

    6 years ago
  24. Yellow dust sounds insane! Living in New Jersey, the only thing we really get is tree pollen. ALL. OVER. YOUR. CAR. Ugh. It’s not bad for you or anything, except for a lot of people it causes allergies and asthma symptoms to go haywire. I just love coming out to my car everyday for work, only to find it covered in a layer of green tree pollen. Thanks trees! -_-

    6 years ago
  25. Yeah we have this in Chicago too, but for us it’s like every 17 years, because it happened when I was born and then when I was 17. We have locust every year that are almost as noisy, but this cicada invasion is insane because you can’t walk anywhere for a couple of weeks without a cicada flying into your face every two seconds!

    6 years ago
  26. When I was visiting Japan last year, THE LAST DAY I remember it being sunny and beautiful outside and then as I was waiting for the train to Tokyo, the sun went away so I just assumed clouds had covered the sky. I looked outside and it was yellow! Freaking out, I asked my friend and he said it was yellow dust. THE REST OF THE DAY I couldn’t breathe, I was coughing profusely, and I had a perpetual runny nose. T_T I literally thought the world was coming to an end, the shift in weather was so dramatic,I definitely understand how quickly the yellow dust can creep up on you! Stay safe guise!

    6 years ago
  27. Don’t worry, the picture is there, but man that’s scary!

    6 years ago
  28. I live in Texas, there is a tree that when it …. makes nature… it is horrible. google image search, “austin allergy cedar” Those trees man… those trees.

    6 years ago
  29. I do not know if this qualifies or not, but in Norway we have an animal which we call “lemen” (Wikipedia tells me that the English name for the animal is “Norway lemming”). Every 5th year or so we might get a “lemenår” (år = year, thus lit. Lemming year) because the lemen has been so freakingisly good at making small lemen children during the beginning of spring. Because of this, there are so many lemen around that it has some sad consequences. You might read headlines in the newspapers like “Be aware of slippery roads because of dead lemen” and you can’t drink the water in the small rivers and streams when hiking in the mountains, because all the lemen would have got into it and drowned, thus polluted the water. However, the lemen is known for having a huge temperament and they can be teased and tormented until they get so angry that they die of a heart attack! Poor cute little animals!

    6 years ago
    • That’s awful! It’s by far the most bizarre natural disaster I have ever seen but oh man..Those poor animals!

      6 years ago
  30. We don’t really get a lot of pollution where I live, or grew up, in Oregon. I did experience a lot of smog when visiting Hong Kong and narrowly missed the Yellow Dust hitting Tokyo last year. HOWEVER, when I was in elementary school my home town was plagued yearly!!!! By swarms and swarms of Ladybugs…..Yes, you heard me Ladybugs. I’d go to the buses and literally see a cloud of red flying through the air. And man do they stink when they die…… <3 you guys

    6 years ago
  31. No, we have dust problems during drought in the Midwest.

    6 years ago
    • You may have never experienced a draught, dust is not as common as it was before. But Minor ones happen in that region. Yellow represents where damage can occur, orange represents where they start. We haven’t had any real problems in 20 years, but they can occur… After the 1930’s we found a solution to the major ones.

      6 years ago
  32. Here in Kansas, we receive Dust Bowls. They are big clouds of dirt that form during times of severe drought. Wind picks up the dust and well, then destruction. Like Tornados, they can destroy houses, or even bury them beneath the dust. It was most common during the 1930’s but droughts still happen, causing smaller, less harmful ones. But way back then, you’d have a death wish if you stepped out in one of these. I also posted this on YouTube as HelloJapan

    6 years ago
  33. I’m also interested in how long does yellow dust season last, I will be leaving for seoul in two weeks! Will I need to get a mask then??

    6 years ago
  34. In Utah we get really bad inversions the air quality gets so bad you have to almost chew it and it keeps the temperature super cold some where around 10 degrees during the day and around -10 at night in Fahrenheit . In Celsius it would be around -12 during the day and -23 at night. And it goes from around December till February. The last few years the air quality has gotten to with in the highest in the world. Yuck!

    6 years ago
  35. I’m glad that I live in Lithuania, because it’s so peaceful and calm (n_n)

    6 years ago
    • Hi! I am from Latvia! No earthquakes, no giant jellyfishes, 45% of the country covered with forests…

      6 years ago
  36. Oh yellow dust, I am kind of happy whenever I hear about these things to apparently live on one of the geographically safest areas in the world… all our worries seem to regard an occasional storm (OBS, not the English definition of storm, ours are more like harsh winds), rainfalls and barely noticeable earthquakes… not kidding, the last one I’ve only experienced once in my life, and all that happened was that we felt it, but it didn’t rub a single item out of place.

    Though I guess, since we do have bears, wolves and mosses I guess Denmark can still be called safer… they freak out for mooses…

    Anyway, I do know what the yellow dust is. 1, I spent a long time studying Asia, as a region, so naturally it was brought up. Secondly, I lived in China myself, though the yellow dust never went too critical where I stayed, or I somehow managed to keep out of the way.

    Though, this year I am going to Shanghai for a year (starting September), which is probably going to be a hundred times worse. I kind of noted to buy face masks early, since I have allergies and it will probably not go well as a combination. Though, if you want to know, S&M, China is well aware of their problems, the major problem is that it will take a while for every part of China to follow on this. Put it like this, the big bad wolves, such as Shanghai and Beijing, gets tons of complains for it, and it’s bee brought up as a major problem yearly. How good are they at dealing with it, well… that is a different story.

    Which is sad, because if I remember correctly, the yellow dust was originally just known for being a sandstorm. The fact that there are so many factories today in China just made things worse.

    And NO, don’t go whiny over China. Do you guys know who started polluting the area worst of them all? Yes, us… When the European nations and the US started complaining about the factories spewing bad things, it was just very fitting to move everything to the Asian market, where all the production was cheaper. Europe is today considered to be very clean in comparison to many other parts of the world, but that is one major reason to why. We aren’t that good at getting rid of our problems, just moving them around.

    Which is also why China cannot deal with all of their problems, as they don’t own them.

    6 years ago
  37. I live on the west coast, USA and I’ve read news articles about pollution coming from china, but I rarely notice it…I don’t live in a big city, though. I have terrible allergies during the month of March and April, but I don’t think it’s from the pollution :/

    6 years ago
  38. In Sweden we don’t really have duststorms or any of the kind, but when it comes to regular storms we show our viking side. “Oh, it’s storming outside and I need to take my car to my job 20 km away? Pssh, I’ll just bring an axe and chop my way through!” We don’t get time off school during winter when lots of snow fall either (what’s it called, snow days?) and it has to be AT LEAST -50 degrees celcius to get the day off. Or during snowstorms when you can’t even se two meters ahead of you you just take the bus instead. I don’t even know how many times storms hit us during schooldays and we had to take shelter in the basement, but after an hour or two and the storm has calmed we return to classes again.

    6 years ago
  39. My boyfriend is from Daqing (close to Harbin) and he’s told me that the area gets dust storms a lot so it’s considered normal. He went back in May for a month, and he told me about these storms and that it’s just a part of everday life

    Interestingly he sent me a chart on air pollution throughout the world one day, and it turns out China is not the worst when it comes to air pollution.

    6 years ago
  40. They have dust storms in the northern and western parts of Texas, but luckily in Houston it’s just pollen everywhere. Wait, pollen is still bad… but at least I can walk around corners and not be worried about getting a mouthful of dust! :D

    6 years ago