SEOUL, March 27 (Korea Bizwire) — Even with South Korea’s skies clearing somewhat from the previous few days, the weather forecast may continue to describe the concentration of fine dust in the atmosphere as “bad”, as air quality standards for PM2.5 have become tougher.
The 24-hour average will be lowered from 50㎍/㎥ to 35㎍/㎥, and the annual average dropped from 25㎍/㎥ to 15㎍/㎥ starting today, according to the Ministry of Environment. South Korea’s air quality standards for PM2.5 will thus be more aligned with corresponding limits set in the U.S. and Japan.
The modified air quality standards will be accompanied with more restrictive parameters for air that is declared “good”, “normal”, “bad” and “very bad” on weather forecasts.
While “good” (0~15㎍/㎥) will remain the same, “normal” (16~35㎍/㎥), “bad” (36~75㎍/㎥) and “very bad” (76㎍/㎥ and above) have all been changed. This would make the 88㎍/㎥ of fine dust measured in Seoul yesterday morning – determined as “bad” — a “very bad” scenario today.
Criticism of the air quality standard change, meanwhile, has come to a boil, with voices questioning what difference modifying domestic fine dust measurement yardsticks would make when air pollutants from China remain the most acute problem.
The Ministry of Environment has responded by describing the tougher PM2.5 standards as a preemptory response that should provide greater safety for the public, as well as creating the momentum that would lead to real results in cutting down on air pollution.
Frequently troubled by polluted air during spring, Seoul’s average PM2.5 measured 193㎍/㎥ yesterday according to the Air Quality Index.
In the OECD’s 2017 How’s Life report measuring well-being, South Korea ranked last out of all 41 countries in terms of average exposure to outdoor PM2.5 with 27.9㎍/㎥, double that of the OECD average of 13.9㎍/㎥.