Dust storm shrouds Tokyo in haze

TOKYO —

A huge dust storm hit Tokyo Sunday, blanketing the city with dust that darkened the skies and rapidly transformed what had been a clear and sunny day.

Visibility in the capital deteriorated quickly as dry dust particles whirled through the air.

Meteorologists said the phenomenon was caused by a sudden cold front, and was not linked with the suffocating pollution that hung over the Chinese capital Beijing last winter.

“A rapidly developing low pressure system in the north was moving down south. It was bringing a snow storm in the north, and strong winds in Tokyo and surrounding areas,” said a meteorologist at the Japan Meteorological Agency.

“In the Kanto region (Tokyo and surrounding areas), the strong winds picked up dry dust particles from the ground, which lowered visibility,” he said.

The phenomenon was expected to be temporary, and rain should strip the dust from the air, he said.

Japan and other regional countries have voiced concern about the impact of airborne pollution drifting from their influential neighbor.

The toxic haze that periodically blankets parts of China has been blamed on emissions from coal burning in power stations but also on fumes from vehicles on the traffic-clogged streets of the world’s largest largest auto market.

Media reports have said that environment ministers from Japan, China and South Korea will meet in May will discuss ways to combat air pollution.

(C) 2013. AFP

  • 6

    ChibaChick

    Im confused. I heard the "smog" in Tokyo today was sand. Now this article says it is PM2.5. So which is it? And are the environment ministry telling people in TOKYO not to go outside too?

  • 2

    gokai_wo_maneku

    And don't forget. PM2.5 chemically interacts with the surface of the yellow sand to produce NPAH, which is a carcinogen. So we are actually getting a double punch from China. You can't breath easier. Just don't breath.

  • -1

    Disillusioned

    It is a combination of both PM2.5 and sand/dust. While many other parts of Japan have issued health warnings and recommended people stay inside the pollution levels are under the Tokyo metro Gov's health risk standard and they have not issued a warning. It is terrible stuff and gets in your eyes and throat. Anybody with any common sense would know to stay inside. I guess that is why I see so many Japanese wandering around and kids playing in the park from my apartment window.

  • 0

    Brainiac

    My eyes have been itchy all day. Hope it goes away quickly.

  • 6

    davestrousers

    My eyes have been itchy too. Really disgusting.

    The view out of my window earlier looked something like the darkest depths of Mordor.

  • 3

    SamuraiBlue

    Brainiac

    That just maybe hay(pollen) fever.

    It's actually a triple punch, two from the mainland and one domestic. Just stay home and if you do need to go out put on a decent mask and glasses and don't forget to dust yourself before entering the home.

  • 10

    JeffLee

    It's not from China, according to the Yomiuri. It's dust and grit from the Kanto plain. That means we can relax, because it's "peaceful" particulate matter.

    http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20130310-00000400-yom-soci

  • -18

    Kimokekahuna Hawaii

    This is how NK or China can revenge attack Japan without firing a bullet.. send up Nuke cloud

  • 1

    House Atreides

    It's getting harder and harder to avoid pollution from China these days. You're not even safe in outer space where Chinese space debris recently hit a Russian satellite, knocking it out. Of course not everyone is complaining. Business must be booming for manufacturers of respirators and air filters.

  • -1

    Tokiyo

    Kimokekahuna Hawaii: ragging on NK and China again I see.

    At least the skies seemed to have cleared up a bit in Tokyo

  • 0

    Kalle Fransson

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asian_Dust I think that this is what's going on. Not sure though.

  • -10

    basroil

    gokaiwomanekuMar. 10, 2013 - 04:03PM JST

    And don't forget. PM2.5 chemically interacts with the surface of the yellow sand to produce NPAH, which is a carcinogen. So we are actually getting a double punch from China. You can't breath easier. Just don't breath.

    http://www.arb.ca.gov/research/health/healthup/may02.pdf From here you can see that it's not just a "carcinogen", it's a floating death machine. 10microgram increase causes 8% increase in lung cancer and 4% increase in death, which is equivalent to 1000mSv/year in terms of cancer!

    People need to start treating this stuff correctly, since it is incredibly dangerous, and unlike larger particles can't be stopped by even the best masks they sell in stores.

  • -2

    some14some

    The Environment Ministry has recommended the public not to venture outside unless necessary.

    this will be useful excuse in case of Abenomics failure !

  • 3

    rzadigi

    I'm finding it really difficult to believe the gov't is looking out for the public. I've been tracking pm2.5 down here in Kyushu for the past month using various websites. Since last Thursday the data has been mysteriously absent with occasional retroactive updates the following day. Prior to Thursday the data was updated every 2 hours. Yesterday a story was posted saying that the yellow sand would be high this weekend but that pm2.5 would not be a problem. Today they contradict themselves and admit the pm2.5 is high and then blame the data problem on overloaded websites.
    I've developed asthma and bronchitis since living here and I'm blaming it on the air quality. The public needs to pay attention to this issue and demand that the gov't try to protect its citizens. The air quality is only predicted to get worse over the next 5 years. Kyushu University has a forecast system, Sprintars, that has been accurate and reliable. Last week they predicted that this weekend's pollution would be the highest of the year - and then the gov't shuts off the data.

  • 3

    Lowly

    I read JeffLee's link,

    which c0ntradicts this article.

    WHich is it? China poison? Or Kanto dust?

    Either way, I have been spending the last couple days indoors grading with my air filter on. (It is now also the height of the spring hay fever. Watery itchy eyes, runny nose.)

  • 1

    CGB Spender

    Gray? Well, over here the sky was yellow. I went out for a minute on the roof balcony. It didn't look nice!

  • 0

    Ester Manalastas

    I saw the sky turning yellowbrown and the orther side is clear sky around 3:00 pm while Im in Shinjuku.

  • -3

    Piotr Gierszewski

    I suppose this is the price of technological boom. Until someone will make engines fueled with water, oxygen or hydrogen. Thankfully in my area the air is a lot cleaner (I can hear the maritime polar air mass whistling outside).

  • 0

    602miko

    went to market costco we park at the roof top i saw the sky really scarry and dark brown seems like that color and the wind looks very bad.

  • 6

    GW

    Folks this happens EVERY year in March, the early spring winds are quite nasty, they pick up dust & sand from farmers fields & it gets airborne, today was just a particularly bad day, some of the roads where I live have large drifts of sand today.

    Toss in the pollen from all the sugi & it makes it pretty bad for many people.

    The vast majority of what hit Kanto today was MIJ, not MIC

  • -8

    lachatamber

    this is definitely yellow sand from China. I mean, I could wipe it off the railing on my balcony. pretty obvious.

  • 1

    Ranger_Miffy2

    Don't suppose those lame face masks do anything worthwhile, either. Spooky afternoon.

  • 5

    zabutonsenbei

    GW is right, this isn't the yellow sand and 2.5 PM that everyone is talking about. It's sand from the farms around Tokyo.

  • 5

    Pukey2

    JeffLee:

    It's not from China, according to the Yomiuri. It's dust and grit from the Kanto plain. That means we can relax, because it's "peaceful" particulate matter.

    Yeah, I'd wish some of the posters here would actually read some other sources instead of relying solely on JT and heresay. Of course, I admit, I thought it was yellow sand from China too - so guess what? I did some research. Checked the internet to look at current maps of 2.5PM/yellow sand, and there was NOTHING over Kanto. And the TV reports even said it was nothing to do with yellow sand, but called it 煙霧 or 砂じん嵐.

    Kimokekahuna Hawaii:

    Sorry, you'll have to blame someone else this time.

    lachatamber:

    this is definitely yellow sand from China. I mean, I could wipe it off the railing on my balcony. pretty obvious

    So Japan doesn't have dust?

  • 1

    Serrano

    The cat who owns me refused to go outside today. Bet that has something to do with this dust.

  • -3

    gokai_wo_maneku

    yes, well FNN is reporting it is yellow sand/polution from China, and displays a graphic showing the spread of the stuff over N. Korea (lucky them) to Japan. I guess they do not believe it is local stuff. I don't think so either. From my balcony in Shinjuku, it was definitely yellow, as is the thin coating of stuff on my balcony rail. Glad I didn't do the laundry today.

  • -4

    issa1

    This is more a goods export genuinely “Made in china”

  • -10

    basroil

    Meteorologists said the phenomenon was caused by a sudden cold front, and was not linked with the suffocating pollution that hung over the Chinese capital Beijing last winter.

    Not from china, but still caused by the same thing, coal power and farms that are not properly maintained.

  • 0

    Serrano

    They're calling it sand from China on Youtube. I dunno, it could just be Japanese dust...

  • -5

    lachatamber

    Pukey:

    So Japan doesn't have dust?

    I've lived here for decades and experienced the Chinese yellow sand time and time again. this is the same thing.

  • 0

    rzadigi

    It is pm2.5. Check the charts down here in Miyazaki. http://www.miyazaki-taiki.jp/taiki/keijihenka.php

    I'd also like to see any other data sources referenced by above posters.

  • -10

    issa1

    china should be ashamed of creating so many problems for their neighbors. Go back to the stone age china.

  • -12

    basroil

    rzadigiMar. 10, 2013 - 09:44PM JST

    It is pm2.5. Check the charts down here in Miyazaki. http://www.miyazaki-taiki.jp/taiki/keijihenka.php

    Nobody denies it's PM2.5, but that doesn't mean it's chinese sourced. Coal plants in the north and west of Tokyo would produce more than enough PM2.5 to cause smog, as would cars and other things too. The article had first stated "China [...] smog has been called PM2.5 in Japan", which is why the people above were quick to point out that it was ridiculous to state that. The new article reflects the correct information that states the smog did not come from china.

  • 2

    Ali Khan

    i wish every body stay healthy

  • 1

    globalwatcher

    I am leaving to Tokyo from my place that reminds everyone a movie of "Sound of Music" of Swizerland. Beautiful air, good water, peace and quiet the 1st class quality of life.

    Well, after what I have read here on JT, I have just purchased a box of surgical masks, eye drops, allergy medication suipplies for this trip. I hope I do not get sick while I am staying in Tohoku

  • 0

    rzadigi

    Here's the best forecasting site to see when the pm2.5 is coming. http://sprintars.riam.kyushu-u.ac.jp/forecastj.html

    Check this site to see the pm2.5 levels in China and then just follow the jetstream to see where it ends up. http://www.aqicn.info/?map You don't have to be a scientist to figure this stuff out. It is NOT coming from Japan.

  • -1

    basroil

    globalwatcherMar. 10, 2013 - 10:52PM JST

    Well, after what I have read here on JT, I have just purchased a box of surgical masks

    Guess you haven't been reading enough, those cheap masks do nothing against PM2.5

  • 2

    cleo

    Folks this happens EVERY year in March

    I've seen the yellow sand before, but never the whole landscape turning yellow like today. We were out in rural Gunma and saw the dust being blown off the fields. It looked almost like the ground was smoking. Dunno if any stuff was being blown over from China, but a lot of what we got today was definitely home-grown.

  • 1

    TokyoGas

    It was pretty crazy... I went into Don Quiote, in Kawasaki, and when I came out the sky was darkening in the direction I was heading. You could stand and watch the cloud coming in. All the while I was thinking... Is this that yellow dust from China?

  • 0

    globalwatcher

    basroilMar. 10, 2013 - 11:02PM JST

    globalwatcherMar. 10, 2013 - 10:52PM JST

    Well, after what I have read here on JT, I have just purchased a box of surgical masks

    Guess you haven't been reading enough, those cheap masks do nothing against PM2.5

    Thanks, basroil, for the info. My masks are for medical professionals; surgeons, and they are very expensive. Hope it will do a job.

  • -4

    basroil

    globalwatcherMar. 11, 2013 - 12:00AM JST

    My masks are for medical professionals; surgeons, and they are very expensive

    Still no good unless you mean a particulate respirator mask like the 3m 1860, regular surgical masks used in hospitals and clinics offer absolutely no protection. Even with a respirator that exceeds N95, you are still letting 15% or so of the particulates in, and almost all under 0.3 micron (with modern coal plants, most of the pollution is this smallest type anyway)

  • 3

    YongYang

    Resuspension of radioactive contamination. All those hotspots jumping into the air. Nice.

  • 2

    ekips

    Just look at the picture! I've been living in Tokyo for over ten years now. The morning-afternoon sun suddenly turned to greyness. Have never seen any yellow dust LIKE THAT here. Still no word from Japanese gov't of PM 2.5 levels?!

  • 4

    philly1

    This is how NK or China can revenge attack Japan without firing a bullet.. send up Nuke cloud.

    No worries. No need. Japan has its own.

  • -2

    horrified

    Smog from China? I'm so glad Japan doesn't produce any smog, or the combination would be killer!

  • 3

    Urqinchina

    @barry Exactly what I was thinking. If you have a look at the latest map of radiation published, the dirt whipped up by the winds are from the kanto region ESP Kashiwa and the surrounding areas. It is the top layer which contains the caesium So I hope there has been testing done for this particular threat. Around minami ku saitama city was especially bad and You had to remain indoors.

  • 0

    JeffLee

    I'm so glad Japan doesn't produce any smog,

    LOL. I hope you're being ironic. The current smog is reported all from Japan, and in summer I get regular photochemical smog warnings in my Tokyo neighbor, advising children to stay indoors.

  • 2

    kurisupisu

    Everyday I can look out at Osaka bay and see the factory produced pollution that leisurely wafts it's way east over the major conurbations of Osaka.japan produces a lot of pollution but China produces more with its inefficient factories. What other animal destroys the environment like we do?

  • 1

    Wakarimasen

    This was downright weird. Was out and about and suddenly world changed - like a winter's day. Everyone O spoke to thought this was from China.

  • -1

    Urqinchina

    @jeff lee I think you will find it was a mixture of both Chinese and Japanese sands. From the top of Aeon car park in Iwatsuki you could see farm dirt swirling while at a higher elevation you see clouds of brownish nature coming in. I have lived in China for 5 years and also lived in Japan for 15, so When I write something that offends your nationalistic Tendencies don't call us ignorant, usually there are facts behind the article.

  • -3

    basroil

    YongYangMar. 11, 2013 - 01:19AM JST

    Resuspension of radioactive contamination. All those hotspots jumping into the air. Nice.

    Not at all, came from the other side. What it does include are coal, car, cigarette, and farm particles, all of which are far worse in terms of lung cancer.

  • -1

    GW

    Clearly several on this thread about TOKYO! Need to look some maps & see where Tokyo sits in relation to like China, Kyushu, NKorea etc

    Do that & you should be able to figure this out, but then again......

  • 0

    ChibaChick

    Clearly several on this thread about TOKYO! Need to look some maps & see where Tokyo sits in relation to like China, Kyushu, NKorea etc

    GW please note since many people (myself included) commented this article has been significantly altered, including all references to PM2.5 (which WERE in the original article) removed. That is why some of the comments seem a little oddball now.

  • 0

    mitoguitarman

    "rzadigiMAR. 10, 2013 - 10:59PM JST Here's the best forecasting site to see when the pm2.5 is coming. http://sprintars.riam.kyushu-u.ac.jp/forecastj.html

    Check this site to see the pm2.5 levels in China and then just follow the jetstream to see where it ends up. http://www.aqicn.info/?map You don't have to be a scientist to figure this stuff out. It is NOT coming from Japan."

    If you had gone outside and tested the wind, you could have easily understood that this cloud could not have come from China.

  • 0

    Urqinchina

    It was obvious from what I saw in Saitama, that there was a mix of CHinese sand and JApanese dirt being rolled around. Here is a quote from an expert

    Sakamoto, a professor of electrical engineering at Kogakuin University in Tokyo and an expert on pollution analysis, found yellow sand in a dust sample taken Sunday from Nerima Ward that apparently got mixed up with other dust.

  • 0

    ka_chan

    So... Japan now looks like it did in the 1950's and 60's.

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