Suffering hazardous levels of fine dust in air quality, Korea is facing multi-faceted problem that includes both internal and external aspects. There exists China’s particulate matter (PM) and smog coming from China for foreign factors, while domestically the problems of carbon emission by diesel cars is pointed out as the main problem. In the past, the current day situation of air quality endangerment was a seasonal issue that occurred frequently in the spring, however it seems that the condition is arising during the winter, leading people to face cold and dusty days. In fact, the Korea Meteorological Administration (KMA) has announced that the dust level in air will worsen this winter.
Previously, fine dust contamination degree dropped significantly during the winter due to continental high pressure, which blew away the existing air pollutants. This phenomenon is researched to be created over Mongolia and China, but KMA has forecasted that the intensity of the continental pressure created will be weak for this winter season. In addition, as the average temperature is expected to be higher than that he past, the prediction for this winter’s air quality seems dire of purification.
Another external factor that could be majorly devastating to Korea’s air problem would be El Nino tidal phenomenon, which is an occurrence that disturbs the airflow in Northeast Asia. This environmental abnormality is foreseen to weaken the seasonal wind that is supposed to blow towards Korean Peninsula and cause an escalation of pollutant congestion in a result. The following problem was also emphasized by the head of the Air Quality Forecasting Center at the National Institute of Environmental Research to be the main reason for the fine dust stay in the country this winter (Jae-heun, 2018).
The dust issue has never been this worse before in the history of Korea and the government is straining to cope with the rapid rising of the problem. This anomaly in a transparent scale is causing various types of health problems and hindrances to outdoor activities, but it is further generating concerns in economic and political aspect. As Environment Minister Cho Myung-rae has stated, the fine dust issue is no longer a minor problem and that the nation as whole will have to take action towards it to solve it (Jae-heun, 2018). The government will have to come up with counter measures to protect the citizens, but individuals will have to cooperate as well to decrease the pollutant level in the air.
What is Fine Dust?
Fine dust consists of tiny particles with diameters of less than 10 micron, e.g. soot from diesel vehicles or incinerators (INCEN AG of Switzerland, 2005). It is known to increase the possibility of respiratory disease including cancer. PM2.5 can be explained as a particulate matter that has a diameter of 0.3 to 2.5 microns. This specific component is harmful to human bodies due to their lightweight and because of their miniscule size that cannot be filtered in our body.
Various sources exist such as fuel burning, fossil-powered stations, diverse industries, automobiles, and etc. It may differ from each location, so the sources mentioned cannot be generalized.
Air Quality Index
The Air Quality Index (AQI) has been the measure utilized by governments around the world to estimate the pollution level in the air. Naturally, the following standard is publically used as well among civilians to forecast the air quality. Its method of calculation is based on detecting numerous types of multi-pollutants: PM2.5, PM10, ozone, NO2, SO2, and CO. Clearly, there will be severe health problems as the AQI number increases. Now, AQI measure may be same for most countries, but each government has their own methods of counter measures for each levels of air pollution.
Fine dust particles have diverse effect on our bodies, but the extent or degree of such influence can be decided by the toxicity and the size of particles. Briefly, the smaller the particle, the deeper it can penetrate the lungs (INCEN AG of Switzerland, 2005). In fact, studies from various organizations have shown that health problems occur from the range of cough to asthmatic, which showed the significant rise in number of patients. In the end, the government will have to further analyze the situation to prevent damage and to purify the air quality in Korea.
INCEN AG of Switzerland. (2005, 1 1). Fine Dust. Retrieved from IQAir: https://www.fijnstofmeter.com/documentatie/IQ-Fine%20Dust.pdf
Jae-heun, K. (2018, 11 28). Fine dust likely to remain deadly throughout winter. Retrieved from TheKoreaTimes: http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/nation/2018/11/371_259502.html