A Canadian writer teaches English and finds out what it's like to be a foreigner.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Cancer My Friend, is Blowing in the Wind...

Any pun on health problems brought on by yellow dust storms from China would be in obvious bad taste, so I'll let this photo do the talking:


This is a shot of Seoul, last April during a particularly nasty stretch of "yellow dust" sandstorms. Here's the bird's eye view:


With the fairly tame Korean winter on the out, and with this announcement in today's paper, it puts our seasonal ratio of heavy snows to cancer-causing, chrome yellow pollution and desert dust cocktails raining from the heavens at a solid 2:1 for snow. You can take them figures to the bank and cash 'em...

I've been warned about the "yellow dust" by other expats who've been through it before. The seasonal dust storms are caused by factory smog from China that mixes with sands from Mongolia's Gobi Desert and goes on a little adventure down Korea way.

The story in the Herald does little to allay my concern, citing the carcinogenic chemical dioxin as one of the ingredients in the yellow dust. Other problems can include eye infections, as well as skin and respiratory problems.

Mung beans, sprouts and garlic are apparently beneficial at neutralizing the "heavy metals" present in the yellow dust once they enter the body, according to this Chosun report. Although there's no science to back it up, many people seem to think eating pork also help expel the toxins.

With 11 days of yellow dust alert last year, the prediction is that this year will be even worse (essentially a global mantra for all environmental concerns, big and small right?). I don't know how bad things will be in the relatively sheltered Siheung area, but I suppose I will when I start counting the face-masks.

If you need me, I'll be hiding inside sucking garlic and pig bellies.

Business as usual.

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