Pedestrians wear air-filtering masks at Osan Air Base, South Korea, March 6, 2019. Since 2017, the Air Force has permitted masks when pollution hit a certain level. But before a recent change, Army regulations had barred most soldiers from wearing filtering masks in uniform.  MATT KEELER/STARS AND STRIPES
Pedestrians wear air-filtering masks at Osan Air Base, South Korea, March 6, 2019. Since 2017, the Air Force has permitted masks when pollution hit a certain level. But before a recent change, Army regulations had barred most soldiers from wearing filtering masks in uniform. MATT KEELER/STARS AND STRIPES

Army allows soldiers to wear masks while in uniform when air quality is poor in S. Korea

by Kim Gamel
Stars and Stripes

SEOUL, South Korea — U.S. Forces Korea has changed its policy to allow soldiers to wear black filtering masks while in uniform as protection against poor air quality in South Korea.

Army regulations had barred soldiers from wearing the masks, which cover noses and mouths, in uniform unless they had a certified medical condition that merited an exception. By contrast, the Air Force permitted masks when pollution hit a certain level.

The new policy, posted Monday, says all servicemembers may wear approved masks while outdoors in uniform when the air-quality index is reported as orange or higher, referring to a color scheme showing pollution levels.

The change comes as people in South Korea have endured record levels of fine dust that have smothered the country and prompted rising worries in the military community as soldiers spend a lot of time training and working outdoors.

Read more at: https://www.stripes.com/1.575182

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