What is the ‘Fine dust’?
For the last 10 years, fine dust, which consists of fine particular matters smaller than 10 microns, has caused serious air pollution in South Korea and has become a severe problem in the nation. People in Korea have become used to coping with extremely high levels of fine and ultra-fine dust at certain time of every year.
Fine dust can be roughly divided into PM-10 and PM-2.5. PM-10 refers to dust with a particle diameter of 10㎍/㎥ or less. PM-2.5 refers to ultra-fine dust with a particle size of 2.5 ㎍/㎥ or less. The concentration of this fine dust must be mitigated for citizens health, because these fine particulates cause not only colds but also respiratory diseases such as allergic rhinitis, asthma, bronchitis, and pneumonia.
According to Air quality guideline of the World Health Organization, the guideline stipulates that PM-2.5 not exceed 10 μg/m³ annual mean, or 25 μg/m³ 24-hour mean, and that PM-10 not exceed 20 μg/m³ annual mean, or 50 μg/m³ 24-hour mean. However, South Korea’s daily fine dust levels show much more serious levels than the WHO’s air quality guidelines standards, with the highest level of fine dust reached over 400 μg/m³ in Seoul, 2018.
Domestic reason of the worsening fine dust problem in the last decade is attributed to the high urban population density rate in Korea and the pollution caused by the large amount of energy consumption there. As South Korea has developed very fast, most of Korean people these days consume modernized urban life style which needs a lot of energy. Thus, consuming energy makes fine particulate dusts because many energies people use are made from burning coals or some not environmental resources. Reducing the level of fine dust, however, is not a problem that can be easily solved by trying only in Korea, but an attempt to solve this problem from an international perspective will help decrease the level of fine dust in the country.
According to Korean Statistical Information Service (KOSIS), the monthly average of fine dust concentration shows the highest in March and the lowest in September in South Korea. This chart shows how fine dust coming from abroad affects Korea, especially from China, because South Korea is located right next to east China, where is one of the most populated in the world and also where has a lot of factories. Therefore when westerly winds blows in winter and spring, fine dusts from China affect South Korea seriously.
To be specific, the wind direction is different from season to season, with winds blowing from China in March and from the east of Korea in September. Therefore, it can be seen that fine dust levels in Korea are very high in winter and spring, when the west winds blows, and relatively low in summer and fall. Moreover, when the dusts from China stay above South Korea’ sky and when the dirt from cities of South Korea are added, the air pollution becomes extremely harmful.
What should we do?
Decreasing the fine dust level nation widely is one of the top priority that the Korean government should do. To mitigate domestic fine dust, government should encourage citizens to use bicycles and public transportation. Add to that, government should try to enforce it’s antipollution policies such as regulate plants which consume a lot of fuels and coals.
Not only reduce the domestic fine dust, South Korea also needs to cooperate with other Asian countries to investigate exact causes of the fine dust and to decrease it for both environment and the public, since levels of fine dust tend to be affected by overseas countries because of the seasonal wind. Add to that, according to statistic by IQair website ,where shows level of fine dust in every country in the world, many Asian countries are suffered from this sever air pollution. Therefore, Asian countries will only be able to achieve good results when they approach the issue through their willingness to think what kind of modern lifestyle causes so much fine dust, and how too solve it together.