Published : 2013-12-10 16:41
Updated : 2013-12-10 16:41
South Korea plans to inform its citizens of fine dust levels twice a day starting early next year to cope with the continued inflow of harmful particles from China, the government said Tuesday.
The government has so far issued forecasts when the air quality was measured at levels three or higher in a five-tier rating composed of "good," "so-so," "a little bad," "bad," "very bad," to help people properly deal with high-density fine dust.
But starting next Monday, the forecasting service will be provided regardless of the air quality once daily for residents in the capital area, the environment ministry said. From February, the service will be expanded to affect the entire country and the frequency will increase to twice a day.
Fine dust is defined as particles smaller than 10 micrometers, and if inhaled it can cause various respiratory diseases and undermine the body's immune system.
Forecasting services against ultrafine dust and ozone gases will be introduced in May next year, a year earlier than originally planned in 2015, according to the ministry.
Ultrafine dust is particles 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter, exposure to which can cause more serious health effects as they penetrate the respiratory system further than larger particles, according to experts.
These forecasts will become available on news reports, the website of the environment ministry and smartphones, it said. The measure came days after the Seoul Metropolitan Government issued its first-ever advisory on ultrafine dust from China as the "particulate matter (PM)-2.5" level in the city reached 93 micrograms per cubic meter.
The level was far higher than the 85 micrograms per cubic meter threshold for issuing the advisory, according to city officials. In a related move on Tuesday, the National Assembly adopted a resolution calling for the government's more active role in addressing the inflow of fine dust from China.
The resolution urged the government to make more efforts to reduce fine dust particles in the air, launch a joint research of air pollutants with neighbor countries and set up a nationwide advisory system as early as possible.
On Monday, the parliamentary committee on environment and labor affairs voted in favor of a plan to increase the government's 2014 budget for tackling fine dust to 11.9 billion won (US$11.32 million) from 1.7 billion won requested by the government. (Yonhap news)