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Yellow dust from China reduces local visibility

Date Posted: 2008-03-07

From South Korea to Okinawa, the seasonís first winds carrying yellow sand from China slowed traffic and dropped fine layers of dust on just about everything.

The dry winds aloft from China brought the seasonís first blanketing of the find yellow sand across much of Japan Sunday and Monday. The Japan Meteorological Agency says visibility dipped below five kilometers in Nagasaki and Kumamoto, while Okinawa joined Kyushu, Chugoku, Shikoku and Kinki areas feeling the winds that dropped visibility to less than ten kilometers.

Okinawa meteorologists predict the yellow sands will continue filtering onto the island through March 10th. In South Korea, where a large scale military exercise began on Sunday, the yellow sands sweeping in from the Mongolian and Chinese deserts hit Ďhazardousí levels of 1,428 micrograms per cubic meter, well above the 800 micrograms level at which military medical personnel begin ordering people to say inside, or reducing activity levels outside.

Contaminants in the sand, which picks up particles from industrial sites in China, include sulfide oxide. Meteorologists urge those with health problems to wear protective masks during dust storms, and drivers are cautioned visibility may periodically be severely limited.

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