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March 23, 2010

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Shanghai also suffers in hazy weather fallout

SAND and dust continued to engulf Shanghai yesterday, resulting in poor visibility.

And weather experts issued a warning for today - try and avoid light-colored outfits as muddy rain is imminent caused by a cold front and sandstorms from the north.

Chen Min, a chief service officer of the Shanghai Meteorological Bureau, said it was not haze yesterday that clouded the city: "It was dust blown back by a southerly."

The Shanghai Environmental Monitoring Center said air quality yesterday was good, on the second of a five-level indicator, and much better than between Saturday and Sunday when the dust and sand first arrived.

However, late last night wind brought dust and sand back and it downgraded the level to heavily polluted.

"Rain is a good way to flush and make floating dust fall," said Chen. "And with continuing winds, dust is being blown out to sea."

Though the dust made Shanghai air hazy, it brought at least one benefit.

The density of nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide, two of three air-pollution indicators along with particulate matter, was substantially decreased as both chemicals adhere to dust when it falls, according to officials.

Doctors warned people with weak immunity systems, allergies or respiratory problems take protective measures if venturing out.

Tongji Hospital said its emergency department received more than 370 patients on Sunday, up from the average 280.

"We saw an increase of patients suffering from respiratory diseases," said Dr Wu Xianzheng of the hospital.

"Air quality is closely related to people's health."

Shanghai Children's Medical Center said it received 10 percent more youngsters on Sunday and most patients suffered allergic reactions that led to runny noses, dermatitis and asthma.

"Dust is the major cause for allergies," said Dr Yue Mengyuan, the center's outpatient department director.

The city's temperatures are expected to drop more than 12 degrees Celsius overnight as a cold front makes its entrance.

The minimum is forecast to be 7 degrees today, dropping to a chilly 5 degrees tomorrow morning.

Weather experts said temperatures tended to fluctuate wildly in Shanghai at this time of the year.


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