Go to contents

High-concentration ozone possible during Yeosu expo

Posted April. 09, 2012 06:38,   


Venues of Expo 2012 Yeosu Korea could suffer from high-concentration ozone, according to a government study obtained by The Dong-A Ilbo Sunday.

Ozone is created when nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds have photochemical reactions. If ozone concentration increases, people have pain in eyes and necks and develop headache and respiratory diseases.

Conducted by the Environment Ministry and the National Institute of Environmental Research, the study on “causes of high-concentration ozone generation” concluded that the number of days when ozone concentration exceeded 100 ppb increased between 2001 and 2010 in Yeosu. The figure was 5.3 days in 2001, 8.67 days in 2004 and 10.33 days in 2007.

The pollutant concentration unit of 1 ppb means that 1 cubic meter of air contains 1 microliter of pollutants at the concentration of one billionth.

The extension of the study to Gwangyang Bay found that the figure was as high as 31 days a year.

Kim So-young, an atmospheric environment researcher of the institute, said, “The prospects of ozone generation in areas surrounding Gwangyang Bay, including Yeosu, Suncheon and Gwangyang, are very high as they are home to refineries and petrochemical and steel companies,” adding, “In particular, winds blowing from the sea towards land are spreading ozone across Gwangyang Bay.”

A bigger problem is that the generation of high-concentration ozone will extensively occur from May to August, when the expo will be held in Yeosu. Of the 495 days that high-concentration ozone was generated throughout the bay from 2001 through 2010, 78 percent (387 days) were in May to August. By month, June suffered the most with 132 days, followed by May with 100 days, August 86 days, and July 69 days.

The Environment Ministry said, “A combined eight million people are expected to visit the expo,” adding, “Frequent generation of high-concentration ozone will deal a huge blow to operations of the international event.”

To deal with the problem, the government wants a temporary cut in production at petrochemical plants in Yeosu. According to the study, the generation of high-concentration ozone was mainly blamed on nitrogen oxides from China and volatile organic compounds emitted from petrochemical plants in Yeosu.

Of more than 100 ppb of high-concentration ozone generated in 2007, 30-45 ppb was created by Chinese nitrogen oxides sent by westerly winds and continental high pressure.