Hazy Skies in Asia
Back in August of last year, Alex picked our apartment because of the wonderful view of the Han River. We could see the North Seoul Tower as well as the surrounding mountains. Notice: could. For the past few months, we’ve noticed that the air quality in Seoul has gotten worse and that, more often than not, we see haze instead of blue sky. Alex used to enjoy the sunrise and I used to enjoy the sunset, but we don’t see any of that now.
Yesterday was the first day when I truly noticed that the air smelled… weird. For the past few months, I noticed black dust whenever I blew my nose, but yesterday the air was especially bad. I even saw some Koreans (who, I think, are on average more vain than the rest of us) wearing face masks! After checking online, I learned that the concentration of fine liquid/solid particles (PM2.5 – particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, approximately 1/30 the width of a human hair) has been increasing in Seoul. But, if the air was this bad in Seoul, how bad was the air in other cities? My mom and I checked the air quality index last night of a few cities and what we found was disturbing:
Seoul on 2/25: AQI of 110+ (moderate/unhealthy for sensitive groups)
Los Angeles on 2/25: AQI of 50 (good)
Washington, D.C. on 2/25: AQI of 30 (good)
Beijing on 2/25: AQI of 500+ (hazardous!!)
However, apparently it rained in Beijing this afternoon and the AQI dropped from 500 to 164 in a matter of minutes (it’s only “unhealthy” now). Hopefully Seoul “clears up” soon… Apparently the coming of Spring means it’ll be yellow dust season in Seoul. Each year fine particulates from China’s Gobi desert blow across Korea, covering everything with a thin layer of yellow dust. So, we have that to look forward to, as well…