Table of Contents
Borrego and Renner (37) define the Asian Dust as a seasonal atmospheric phenomenon that sporadically affects most of the countries in East Asia during the season of spring. Asian Dust is also known as yellow dust, China dust storms, yellow wind or yellow sand, usually because the yellow tiny particles are experienced in China (Borrego and Renner 37). The dust particles originate in the deserts of northern China, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia where intense dust storms and high-speed winds kick up thick clouds of tiny, dry soil particles (Goudie, Andrew, and Middleton 65). The prevailing winds carry these dense clouds of dust eastwards and pass over North and South Korea, Japan, and China. Sometimes the dust particles are carried in substantial concentration to distant places, such as the United States where they significantly pollute the atmosphere (Borrego and Renner 43). Asian dust has become a grievous problem because of high levels of industrial pollutants it contained and escalated desertification in China (Hyo%u0306n, In, and Schreurs 54). Environmental, and historical, political and Ideological effects of Asian Dust will be considered in this discussion.
Environmental issues of Asian Dust
Asian dust has become a grievous problem because of high levels of industrial pollutants it contained and escalated desertification in China. Desertification has increased in China, as large expanses of land are extremely dry (Hyo%u0306n, In, and Schreurs 54). The developing countries of East Asia, such as China are experiencing air pollution as a significant source of environmental degradation. Asian Dust forms the greatest proportion of air pollution, especially during the season of spring when the prevailing winds carry dense dust particles over China (Borrego and Renner 42). Due to rapid push to industrialization, China is experiencing significant accumulation of aerosol pollutants over the country (Goudie, Andrew, and Middleton 53). Asian Dust mixes with the aerosols during its long-range movement in the atmosphere.
In 2007, sampling campaign was done on the spring aerosol over northern and northwestern China and an urban center in eastern China with the aim of investigating the mixing of pollution aerosol and Asian dust during its long-range movement (Vilas 75). Based on the results, the dust sources such as the western high-Calcium dust from the Taklimakan Desert, the northeastern low-Calcium dust and northwestern high-Calcium dust from Mongolia Gobi were identified by using elemental tracer analysis (Vilas 77). The dust particles that originated from the Taklimakan Desert were least polluted as compared to the dust particles from the other two sources. During the dust days, the concentrations of Cadmium, Lead, Sulfur, Zinc, Copper, and Arsenic were extremely high during dust days, which showed the entrainment of pollutants by dust (Vilas 77). The samples of Asian dust contained a high concentration of Sulfur (VI) oxide as a result of heterogeneous reaction during dust storm (Vilas 83). The western dust was characterized by low concentrations of anthropogenic aerosols that originated from the Taklimakan Desert.
The northwestern dust was characterized by a significant chemical reactivity as well as mixing with precursors of sulfur that originated from the coal mines during the long-range movement of dust (Borrego and Renner 57). Vilas (52) found out that the dust from the northeastern parts of Mongolia Gobi was characterized by high acidity and it interacted with sea salts and local pollutants. After the comparisons of the evolution of the water-soluble ions were made on both dust and non-dust days, it was found that major ion species evolved from different sources of the dust during the long-range movement of dust (Vilas 61). According to Borrego and Renner (43), the mixing mechanisms of the pollution aerosols and the Asian dust on the long-range, medium-range, and local scale discovered during the study, would make it easier for people to understand the effects of Asian dust on the global or regional climate change.
Asian dust has also been found to contain soot, carbon monoxide, ash, as well as bacteria, viruses, fungi, antibiotics, pesticides, herbicides, asbestos, combustion products, plastic ingredients, and hormones that mimic phthalates (Vilas 43). Most of these components can reach places of destination without being sterilized by the ultraviolent light while in the atmosphere. Therefore, Asian dust causes a number of health problems such as asthma, cancer, lung disease and sore throat in otherwise health population (Borrego and Renner 59). Because of the storms and acid rain, important resources such as farmlands are destroyed as the soils are degraded. Deposits of soot, ash and heavy metals contaminate aquifers and crop lands (Borrego and Renner 61). Reduced visibility is another common feature in those areas that are affected by Asian dust. The phenomenon of reduced air visibility leads to canceled ground travel, flights, and outdoor activities, which has a direct impact on economic development of the affected regions (Liou, Kuo, and Chou 41). About fifty billion Yuan can be lost every year in those countries that experience Asian dust (Borrego and Renner 59). The costs do not include pollution, medical, and various secondary effects, and the negative effects to the neighboring countries.
In recent years, the Republic of China and South Korea have taken part in reforestation in the places where Asian dust originates (Omasa, Kenji, Nouchi, and Kok 29). However, the efforts of establishing the plant cover have not altered the problem in any positive way. China has also been supported by foreign countries, such as South Korea to establish plant cover in desert areas, but the winds are so strong that the established trees are buried in sand or simply fall down (Borrego and Renner 62). South Korea contributed several trees in 2007 to help block the movement of the yellow dust from the source (Borrego and Renner 65). However, the trees were planted by highways only according to the decision that was made by the People’s Republic of China.
Historical issues of Asian dust at China
Dust storm activity in China was discovered in the Zhu Shu Ji Nian as recorded in the earliest written records. According to the record, the Asian dust was first experienced at Bo in 1150 BC (Fu, Congbin, Freney, and Stewart 57). In China and other parts of East Asia, the meteorological conditions of Asian dust have been taking place in springtime (Borrego and Renner 43). Since the time immemorial, Sr and Nd isotopic ratios of loess and the potential source materials have been investigated systematically to discriminate the anthropogenic and natural sources of the Asian dust in China (Fu, Congbin, Freney, and Stewart 62). Therefore, the loess deposit in China, which has accumulated over the previous years, is among the source materials of Asian dust. The loess has been found to have a negative correlation of Nd and Sr isotopes, which shows that Asian dust in China originates from binary sources (Omasa, Kenji, Nouchi, and Kok 31). This isotopic ratio has been the basis of analyzing the sources of Asian dust. For instance, it has been found that the arid lands at the northern demarcation of China and the Tibetan Plateau are the potential source areas of Asian dust (Borrego and Renner 39).
The Asian dust incidents of April 1998 and April 2001 were chosen for analysis because they represented similar historical incidents (Fu, Congbin, Freney, and Stewart 74). Special emphasis has been given to the 2001 incident because it does not have enough information in the records. The violent tropical storm over China during the 2001 incident was very deep with very strong winds. The storm lifted the Asian dust higher into the atmosphere, the height of about five kilometers (Fu, Congbin, Freney, and Stewart 75). However, the temperatures were so cold over China in April that the convection could not be effective to bring about vertical movement of Asian dust from its sources. For the Asian dust to stay in higher atmosphere, the air should be precipitation-free. In situ observations for the 2001 incident have not been recorded in the literature and therefore, inference is based on the physical properties of Asian dust event that occurred in April 1998 (Fu, Congbin, Freney, and Stewart 74).
In the Republic of China, many people have suffered for a long time as a result of the negative impact of Asian dust (Borrego and Renner 42). The young children, elderly, and individuals with lung diseases, heart disease and diabetes have been the most affected individuals from the time Asian dust incidents started to take place. However, various strategies have been used to reduce the discomfort due to Asian dust: staying indoors most of the time; keeping doors and windows closed; wearing glasses; brushing teeth, and ensuring that hands are clean before handling food; drinking plenty of water to avoid dehydration; washing vegetables and fruits exposed to Asian dust before consumption; use of humidifiers and filters to keep air moist and clean; avoiding the use of spray aerosols or candle burning; and wearing masks before getting out of the house or confined place (Borrego and Renner 44). All the measures against Asian dust problems become very common during the season of spring.
Political and Ideological issues of Asian dust at China
The semi-desert and desert areas of Mongolia and the People’s Republic of China have been considered as the major sources of sandstorms and Asian Dust (Borrego and Renner 37). The incidents of sandstorms and Asian dust have become a grievous social-environmental occurrence in Asian countries, including China. The impacts of sandstorms and Asian Dust are not limited to the places of origin, and they are therefore referred to as trans-boundary problems. Considerable hardships and loss of income, grievous public health problems, and disruption of transport and communication result of the incidents of sandstorms and Asian Dust, both in the countries of origin as well as the foreign countries (Borrego and Renner 59). In extreme cases, the incidents damage ecosystems, cause death, extensive destruction of crops and livestock.
People’s Republic of China, Mongolia, Republic of Korea, and Japan found the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to be very helpful in addressing the negative impacts of Asian dust events (Fu, Congbin, Freney, and Stewart 69). Since the events are trans-boundary in mature, regional cooperation is the most effective way of addressing the negative impacts. Much more can be accomplished if the affected nations organize interventions jointly rather than acting alone. After a fact-finding mission and a number of consultations, ADB approved a regional technical assistance in December 2002 (Omasa, Kenji, Nouchi, and Kok 38). The regional technical assistance project was aimed at controlling and preventing Sandstorms and Asian dust across Northeast Asia. The member countries of ADB, People’s Republic of China, Mongolia, Republic of Korea, and Japan, take part in the regional technical assistance project because they represent the affected and originating areas within the Northeast Asia (Borrego and Renner 62).
Asian dust incidents have been experienced in many countries, especially those that are located in the Northeast Asia region. People’s Republic of China, Mongolia, Republic of Korea, and Japan are most affected countries (Borrego and Renner 62). Asian dust has become a grievous problem because of high levels of industrial pollutants it contained and escalated desertification in China (Borrego and Renner 62). Asian dust is harmful to the health of people, animals and plants because of the constituents that it is composed of. Cadmium, Lead, Sulfur, Zinc, Copper, Arsenic, soot, carbon monoxide, ash, bacteria, viruses, fungi, antibiotics, pesticides, herbicides, asbestos, combustion products, and plastic ingredients are some of the elements that make up Asian dust (Vilas 77). Some of the mitigations strategies include establishment of tree cover, but due to strong winds, trees are buried in sand. Organizations such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) have enabled the most affected countries to overcome the effects of Asian dust and sandstorms.