SEJONG, Feb. 23 (Korea Bizwire) – In advance of environmental safety standards beginning to be enforced on select young children’s facilities starting this year, the Ministry of Environment launched a 9-month environmental safety inspection last April and found that 25.2 percent – 1,170 of the 4,639 facilities inspected – possessed excessive hazardous substance concentrations.
The facilities inspected were private preschools and kindergartens that measure less than 430 square meters in gross floor area and were constructed prior to March 22, 2009 when the Environmental Health Act went into effect. Enforcement of environmental safety standards stipulated by the Environmental Health Act began on January 1 for the inspected facilities.
A total of 559 establishments had concentrations of heavy metals such as lead and mercury exceeding the legally mandated limit within coating, paint, varnish and lacquer applied in children’s activity zones.
Testing indoor air quality revealed 611 establishments possessed levels of formaldehyde and total volatile organic compounds that were too high.
Among the facilities inspected, 112 were guilty of both poor indoor air quality and too much heavy metal concentration.
The Ministry of Environment urged the proprietors of failing institutions to address the safety concerns as soon as possible, and provided assistance to 304 to do so.
In an upcoming March inspection, the government will either bring charges against, publicly disclose or issue a directive to the preschools and kindergartens that have failed to make the necessary safety modifications. The maximum penalty that follows from disobeying the government directive is a prison term of less than 3 years and a fine below 30 million won.