SEJONG, April 6 (Korea Bizwire) — With exposure to air pollution – in particular fine dust – a serious environmental concern in South Korea, the government announced today that it will implement regulations requiring kindergartens, elementary schools and special schools to install air purification measures in classrooms over the next three years.
The Ministry of Environment had previously taken steps to improve environmental safety by capping permissible indoor PM2.5 levels at 35㎍/㎥ last month. The only fine dust restriction in place prior to this limit was a ceiling of 100㎍/㎥ for particulate matter equal to or below 10㎛ in diameter.
Going by published figures, approximately 100,000 classrooms will require new air purification systems. As of late March, 37.6 percent of 161,713 classrooms at kindergartens, elementary schools and special schools already had air purification measures in place.
An estimated budget of 220 billion won has been drawn up, and installing air purification measures will begin at 2,700 classrooms starting with institutions that are located near roads.
The government has also earmarked 380 billion won in separate funds to support the construction of gymnasiums and other physical education infrastructure so that children can exercise indoors when fine dust levels are too high. When investigated at the end of last year, only 617 of 11,786 schools in the country (K-12 and special schools) did not have adequate facilities for indoor exercise.
During days when weather agencies report the fine dust levels to be “bad” or higher, students with respiratory troubles such as asthma who stay home from school will be excused as taking a sick day.
A “bad” PM2.5 day means concentration levels of 36~75㎍/㎥. South Korea’s air quality standards pertaining to PM2.5 were modified by the government to move closer to international standards.