The Korea Herald


Half of Koreans say fine dust action plan ‘unsatisfactory’

By KH디지털2

Published : Feb. 1, 2017 - 16:38

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Amid growing public anxiety over the Korean Peninsula’s gray skies and health risks linked to air pollution, more than half of South Koreans find themselves unsatisfied with the government’s countermeasures against fine dust, a survey showed Wednesday.

According to the poll conducted by the state-run Korea Environment Institute, 53.1 percent of Koreans said the government’s fine dust countermeasures are unsatisfactory, while another 55.2 percent said they worry about the current fine dust level here.

The survey was conducted with 1,000 citizens across the country in September last year. 

In June last year, the South Korean government released a set of fine dust countermeasures to improve the country’s air quality over 10 years to levels equivalent to those of European countries -- down to an average dust concentration of 18 micrograms per cubic meter of air from the current 23 micrograms.
Seoul is shrouded in fine dust Friday, the first day of the four-day Lunar New Year holiday (Yonhap) Seoul is shrouded in fine dust Friday, the first day of the four-day Lunar New Year holiday (Yonhap)
Authorities cited the emissions from diesel engine cars and business sites that deal with construction waste or that use solid fuel as the main culprits behind locally produced fine dust.

In that vein, the Environment Ministry in January mapped out a set of measures to reduce emissions from diesel cars, including a weekly no-driving campaign and gradually cutting down on benefits given to diesel car owners.

A ministry official said it would activate such measures from February as “worn-out diesel cars running in the country are the first thing that should be avoided.”

However, experts stress the importance for cross-border cooperation to improve the air quality in South Korea.

Separate from domestic action plans, the government has yet to release cross-border countermeasures. 

“The current fine dust problem in Korea is difficult to resolve within a short period of time. That is why it is important for the government to come up with regional cooperation measures in eradicating air pollution and to have China involved in such joint efforts, noting air pollution has no boundaries,” said Jang Im-seok, head of KEI’s Center for Environmental Assessment Monitoring.

Earlier this year, a separate study conducted by the KEI showed that about 70 percent of fine dust particles found in South Korean skies on more polluted days came from neighboring Northeast Asian countries such as China. 

The Environmental Performance Index rankings released last year showed that South Korea ranked No. 173 out of 180 countries in terms of air quality, scoring 45.51 out of a possible 100 points.

By Kim Da-sol (