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(LEAD) Yellow dust blankets S. Korea for 2nd day, emissions reduction measures enforced

National 12:05 March 30, 2021

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; UPDATES with more details in paras 5-6; ADDS more photos)

SEOUL, March 30 (Yonhap) -- Harmful yellow dust originating mostly from northern China continued to blanket South Korea for a second day Tuesday, prompting authorities to take emergency emissions reduction measures against spikes in fine dust levels.

Hit by the powerful dust storm from the island deserts in northern China and Mongolia, South Korea issued yellow dust warnings for almost all parts of the country for the first time in a decade on Monday.

This photo, taken March 30, 2021, shows haze blurring the sky over Gwangju, 330 kilometers south of Seoul, as a yellow dust storm causes the density of harmful particles to increase. (Yonhap)

According to weather authorities, the density of fine dust particles smaller than 10 micrometers in diameter, known as PM 10, peaked as high as 973 micrograms per cubic meter in Gunsan as of 1 a.m. Tuesday.

Authorities here categorize concentrations of PM 10 between zero and 30 micrograms as "good," between 31 and 80 as "normal," between 81 and 150 as "bad" and more than 151 as "very bad."

Environment Minister Han Jeoung-ae (C) presides over an anti-fine dust meeting in Seoul on March 30, 2021, as the harmful substance, mostly from China, blanketed the country. (Yonhap)

Other regions across the country were also affected by the yellow dust, with yellow dust warnings in South Chungcheong Province, the Jeolla region, Jeju Island, Ulleung Island and Dokdo remaining in place as of 9 a.m.

Yellow dust warnings in Seoul and its nearby areas, the southerns part of Gangwon Province, North Chungcheong Province, Daejeon and Sejong, however, have been lifted thanks to marked decreases in yellow dust concentration levels.

A person jogs in the streets of southern Seoul as the level of fine dust reached "very bad" levels on March 30, 2021. (Yonhap)

The National Institute of Environmental Research forecast fine dust in Incheon, part of Gyeonggi Province, the provinces of Chungcheong, Jeolla, Gyeongsang and Jeju to remain in the "very bad" levels throughout the day.

Apparently concerned for their health safety, some workers commuting to work in the morning were spotted covering their faces with double masks, while others were seen waiting for buses not at outdoor stations on the streets but inside nearby buildings.

The landscape of southern Seoul appears shrouded in fine dust on March 30, 2021. (Yonhap)

One convenience store owner in Daejeon, 164 kilometers south of Seoul, said he took from home some saline water to cleanse his eyes, as the extreme amount of dust caused irritation. "The store windows have to be constantly cleaned of the dust," the store owner added.

Emergency emissions reduction measures have been put in place in Busan, Gwangju, South Chungcheong Province, South and North Jeolla provinces, South Gyeongsang Province and Jeju Island.

Vehicles that are categorized as Grade 5 in terms of emission have been prohibited from use in the regions, and 18 coal power plants have also been suspended.

This photo, taken March 30, 2021, shows haze blurring the sky over Yeouido in Seoul as a yellow dust storm caused the density of harmful fine dust particles to increase. (Yonhap)


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