J Prev Med Public Health.  2005 May;38(2):197-202.

Effects of the Severe Asian Dust Events on Daily Mortality during the Spring of 2002, in Seoul, Korea

  • 1Department of Preventive Medicine, Seoul National University College of Medicine & Institute of Environmental Medicine, SNUMRC, Korea. chosuh@snu.ac.kr
  • 2Department of Preventive Medicine, College of Medicine, Dankook University, Korea.


During the spring of 2002, an unprecedented 2 Asian dust events were experienced in Seoul. On those days, the PM10 was surprisingly increased, with daily PM10 averages exceeding 600 and 700 microgram/m3 on March 21 and April 8, respectively. Accordingly, public concern relating to the possible adverse health effects of these dust events has increased, as the dust arrives in Korea after having flown over heavily industrialized eastern China. We investigated the effects of these Asian dust events on the mortality during the spring of 2002, in Seoul, Korea. METHODS: The total number of deaths per day during the spring of 2002 in Seoul was extracted form the mortality records of the National Statistical Office. We constructed 14 Asian dust days (March 17-March 23, April 7-April 13) and 42 control days during the 56 day study period (March 3-April 27) with respect to the days of the week. The daily average numbers of deaths between the Asian dust and control days were analyzed, with adjustment for meteorological variables and pollutants. RESULTS: The daily PM10 average during the Asian dust weeks was 295.2 microgram/m3, which was significantly higher than during the control days (P< 0.001). The daily average number of deaths from all causes during the Asian dust days was 109.9; 65.6 for those aged 65 years and older, 6.7 from respiratory causes (J00-J99) and 25.6 from cardiovascular causes (I00-I99). The estimated percentage increases in the rate of deaths were 2.5% (95% CI=-5.0- 10.6) from all causes; 2.2% (95% CI=-7.4-12.8) for those aged 65 years and older, and 36.5% (95% CI=0.7-85.0) from respiratory causes, but with a 6.1% (95% CI=-19.7- 9.7) decrease in deaths from cardiovascular causes. CONCLUSION: The Asian dust events were found to be weakly associated with the risk of death from all causes. However, the association between dust events and deaths from respiratory causes was stronger. This suggests that persons with advanced respiratory diseases may be susceptible to Asian dust events.


Asian dust events; Particulate matter; Mortality

MeSH Terms

Air Pollutants/*adverse effects
Urban Population
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