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More fine dust warnings issued in 2018 compared to last year

More fine dust warnings have been issued in South Korea's central region so far this year than for the same period in 2017 amid growing public concerns over air quality, provincial government data showed Tuesday.

South Korea has been struggling to deal with fine dust particles from both home and coming in from China, as well as yellow dust from Mongolia during the winter and spring seasons.

A total of 42 fine dust warnings and advisories have been issued for Gyeonggi Province, which surrounds Seoul city, this year, according to official data.

Citizens wearing masks cross roads near Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul on Friday. (Yonhap)
Citizens wearing masks cross roads near Gwanghwamun Square in Seoul on Friday. (Yonhap)

The total breaks down to 17 PM10 advisories, two PM10 warnings and 23 PM2.5 advisories.

The total is up from 36 warnings and advisories issued for the same period last year.

PM10 is fine dust of 2.5 to 10 micrometers in diameter, while PM2.5 is 2.5 micrometers smaller in diameter and can only be seen with an electron microscope.

A fine dust warning is issued when the level reaches over 300 micrograms per cubic meter (㎍/㎥), while an advisory is put in place when the level is over 150 ㎍/㎥.

Fine dust -- particles smaller than 10 micrometers -- can cause respiratory ailments and undermine the body's immune system.

The levels of fine dust and the duration of the warnings and advisories also rose this year from a year earlier due apparently to the increasing amount of fine and yellow dust from China.

The average dust concentration level was 149 parts per million in 2018, up from 132.8 ppm last year, while the duration was 19.8 hours this year compared with 16.3 hours in 2017.

"We assume the fine dust from China stays longer on the Korean Peninsula due to the wind moving slowly," a Gyeonggi provincial government official said. (Yonhap)

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