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Air Pollution Rises in Smaller Cities

Posted January. 18, 2006 03:00,   


Kim Byung-hwan (37), a resident of Pocheon City, Gyeonggi Province, couldn’t stand his continuous coughing on his way to work and went to an emergency room a short time ago. He was diagnosed with acute asthma.

He found out later that many of his co-workers had reported similar symptoms. The company asked experts to do research about that. The result pointed to particulate matter up to 10 micrometers in size, known as PM10, emitted by transportation near his office and construction sites as the culprit.

PM10 pollution in big cities such as Seoul has generally improved, but so-called “clean cities” which have been considered safe zones in terms of pollution, are suffering from serious PM10 contamination.

According to a research report, the level of PM10 regulation in Korea is unreasonably low compared to developed countries, and a wide range of pollution prevention measures are not working.

Dong-A Ilbo and experts in this field analyzed monthly air pollution statistics from the Ministry of Environment for 2002-2005, air pollution data from 25 districts of Seoul came up with the above conclusions.

The results said that the yearly PM10 pollution level on average in major cities was the lowest, 48μg per a cubic meter (1μg is one millionth of a gram) in Daejeon, Gwangju (49μg), Ulsan (51μg), Daegu (54μg), and Seoul and Busan (above 58μg) in order.

But yearly PM10 pollution levels in Goyang City, Gyeonggi Province, which is known to be a clean city, significantly increased from 50μg in 2002 to 76μg last year.

Pocheon City also conducted PM10 pollution level research for the first time and found out that it amounts to 77μg per a cubic meter, which surpasses the standard level set by the Ministry of Environment.

It is said that the reasons why small and medium-sized cities are seeing increases in their level of PM10 pollution is that 3.5 million (more than 20 percent of the total number in Korea) of the 15,390,000 cars across the country are registered in those areas, and that there are a number of factories emitting air pollutants there.

Meanwhile, the level of PM10 pollution in Seoul recorded 58μg per a cubic meter last year which was the lowest since 1995 when research on PM10 began.

The introduction of low-pollution cars and more stringent emissions tests have led to an improvement in the level of the pollution in big cities such as Seoul, Daejeon and Daegu. Experts analyze that in the case of Seoul in particular, the restoration of Cheonggyecheon made a big impact on reducing the amount of pollutants in the city.

However, some point out that a limit on dust emissions should be strengthened in individual construction sites because the level of PM10 in the country amounts to 70μg per cubic meter, which is way above 40μg per cubic meter, the standard level set by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.