The Seoul metropolitan area was shrouded by heavy fine dust concentrations for the second straight day on Wednesday, forcing local governments to issue a fine dust advisory and take emergency emission reduction measures. These included a mandatory alternate no-driving system for public vehicles and a road ban on old diesel cars.
A constant influx of Chinese smog into the stagnant local air has led to a spike in ultrafine dust figures to bad levels in almost all of South Korea, excluding Jeju Island, since the weekend, according to the Air Quality Forecasting Center affiliated with the Ministry of Environment.
The fine dust particles from China came here on warm westerly winds that followed days of a cold spell caused by Siberian high pressure. But the Korea Meteorological Administration said thick fine dust concentrations would disappear beginning Wednesday night when the cold wind from the northwest will stream into the peninsula. It also forecasted temperatures would fall by more than 10 degrees Celsius nationwide on Thursday due to cold northwesterly winds.
According to the air forecasting center, PM 2.5, or fine dust particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, jumped to 118 micrograms per cubic meter in Seoul, 106 micrograms in Gyeonggi Province surrounding the capital and 90 micrograms in Incheon as of 10 a.m. Wednesday. The PM 2.5 reading rose to 85 micrograms in the southeastern city of Daegu. Weather authorities categorize concentrations of PM 2.5 particles between 0 and 15 micrograms per cubic meter as “good,” between 16 and 35 as “normal,” between 36 and 75 as “bad” and more than 76 as “very bad.”
Government officials asked people with respiratory or cardiovascular problems, children and other vulnerable people to stay indoors, saying fine dust particles can cause various ailments and undermine the body’s immune system. They also asked that other people wear masks when going outdoors or engaging in outdoor activities.
Faced with rising fine dust pollution, local governments in the capital area and the central province of North Chungcheong enforced their emergency emission reduction measures for the second consecutive day. Authorities in Busan, Daegu and other central and southern provinces implemented their first emission reduction steps this winter.
Source: The Korea Times