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Friday, March 22, 2002 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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UW monitoring giant dust storm blowing in from Asia

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A big dust storm in China is likely to cross the Pacific and could be visible in the United States, a researcher at the University of Washington-Bothell says.

Dan Jaffe, an environmental-chemistry professor, expects to be able to detect the dust in a week or two.

The UW has a monitoring station on the Olympic Peninsula and will take samples by small airplane on flights out of Everett's Paine Field.

Jaffe says the dust is unlikely to be a pollution problem in itself. But it adds to the existing pollution. In addition, it demonstrates that other pollutants from Asia could be a problem for people living 5,000 miles away.

"The dust is not the most toxic ingredient of things that are coming over," Jaffe said.

The storm from the Gobi Desert has made life miserable for millions in China. By the time it reaches the United States, the dust may make skies look washed out or milky, Jaffe said.

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