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US soldiers wish for masks as air pollution smothers South Korea

 YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — With much of South Korea smothered in record levels of fine dust, the streets are full of people wearing masks as protection from the punishing air pollution.

Most American soldiers don’t have that option — at least when they’re in uniform. The Air Force permits masks when pollution hits a certain level.

Army regulations bar soldiers from wearing the masks, which cover noses and mouths, unless they have a certified medical condition that merits an exception.

That has caused concern among many soldiers and their loved ones as much of South Korea has endured several days of dense pollution that irritates eyes and makes breathing difficult.

“I feel like my husband should be able to wear a mask. I really don’t like that,” Army wife Alexandra Jackson said as she waited for dinner at the Yongsan Garrison food court.

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