Thursday, April 9, 2009

Opening Day

No, not baseball. Yellow Dust (aka "hwangsa") season, If you're too lazy to check out the link to Wikipedia, I'll quote it for you. Enjoy the infodump:

[Yellow Dust] is a seasonal meteorological phenomenon which affects much of East Asia sporadically during the springtime months. The dust originates in the deserts of Mongolia and northern China and Kazakhstan where high-speed surface winds and intense dust storms kick up dense clouds of fine, dry soil particles. These clouds are then carried eastward by prevailing winds and pass over China, North and South Korea, and Japan, as well as parts of the Russian Far East...[where they pick up] sulphur, soot, ash, carbon monoxide, and other toxic pollutants including heavy metals (such as mercury, cadmium, chromium, arsenic, lead, zinc, copper) and other carcinogens, often accompany the dust storms, as well as viruses, bacteria, fungi, pesticides, antibiotics, asbestos, herbicides, plastic ingredients, combustion products as well as hormone mimicking phthalates...

...the dust is known to cause a variety of health problems, not limited to sore throat and asthma in otherwise healthy people...

The dust storms also affect wildlife particularly hard, destroying crops, habitat, and toxic metals interfering with reproduction. Coral are hit particularly hard. Toxic metals progagate up the food chain, from fish to higher mammals. Air visibility is reduced, including canceled flights, ground travel, outdoor activities, and can be correlated to significant loss of economic activity. Japan has reported washed clothes stained yellow.

Korea Times has reported it costing [$2268 US], 6000 gallons of water, and 6 hours to simply clean one jumbo jet.

You get the idea. I have been unable to breathe properly the last few days, today being the worst of it. It sucks tremendously. It would suck to begin with, but as a natural phenomenon what are you going to do? But the addition of stuff like heavy metals and hormone disrupters rather scary, whether or not it has any immediate affect on my breathing.

Japan and South Korea are understandably fed up with just how bad it's become and have offered aid and equipment to China to lessen some of nastier effects (sulfur filters for their power plants, trees to block the winds and absorb the carbon monoxide, straight up cash money) but China has pretty much thumbed their nose at both of them. (Or so it seems.) Very few of the filters have been outfitted to the smokestacks, and the trees have been planted outside where Japan and South Korea intended them to go to mitigate the effects.

Allergy medicine, sinus irrigation, and hot tea can only do so much. I'm considering going to the hospital (where they have a foreign clinic and nurses who speak English) to get a prescription for an albuterol puffer or something similar, I can't handle a whole spring like this.


  1. i'll check on my end for an inhaler for you, too. I'll call the dr. and see if they can prescribe something for me to mail to you. karen wants to know how well the netti (sp?) pot works,

  2. I feel like a huge idjit using it and it reminds me of getting water up my nose at the beach, but afterwards my nasal passages are nice and clear in ways they usually aren't.