The Korea Herald


Education Ministry moves to shield kids from air pollution

By Bak Se-hwan

Published : April 27, 2017 - 15:30

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Primary to high schools here without indoor gyms are now required to create indoor spaces for sports in preparation for days when air quality is poor, South Korea’s Ministry of Education said Thursday, as it strengthens efforts to protect young students from worsening air pollution.

The ministry has announced a set of anti-air pollution guidelines that include restricting the outdoor activities of students when the concentration of airborne pollutants is high.

The capital blanketed in a gray haze caused by fine dust in the air. (Yonhap) The capital blanketed in a gray haze caused by fine dust in the air. (Yonhap)

“A new committee will be run in cooperation with regional education offices and experts of environment and education to solve air pollution problems,” the ministry said in a press release.

“If necessary, we are considering to form an additional task force team.”

Thursday’s announcement came after Seoul’s local education office independently notified schools in the city to refrain from outdoor activities during times of bad air quality.

Public concerns have risen over local schools’ lack of response to air pollution, which parents and experts say would have a greater impact on children.

Under the new guidelines, all schools are recommended to have enough space to carry out indoor sports activities in case of fine dust concentration levels exceeding 81 micrograms per cubic meter (51 for ultrafine dust concentration levels).

The invisible dust particles can cause a wide range of maladies, including cancer, by penetrating into the respiratory system.

To better inform the public about air quality, the government body will also hold talks with the Ministry of Environment to make the measurements of fine dust more accurate to meet the World Health Organization’s standards.

“In order to prevent the health damage of students, (we) need to recognize the danger of fine dust and continue creating education programs on the subject,” said Education Minister Lee Joon-sik.

“Active cooperation is needed between authorities, education offices and schools in order to create a safe school environment.”

By Bak Se-hwan (