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Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups
|Air pollution level||Air quality index||Main pollutant|
|Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups|| 102 US AQI||PM2.5|
PM2.5 concentration in Suwon is currently 7.2 times the WHO annual air quality guideline value
|Sunday, Sep 25|
Moderate 53 US AQI
|Monday, Sep 26|
Moderate 56 US AQI
|Tuesday, Sep 27|
Moderate 61 US AQI
|Wednesday, Sep 28|
Moderate 82 US AQI
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups 102 US AQI
|Friday, Sep 30|
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups 127 US AQI
|Saturday, Oct 1|
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups 114 US AQI
|Sunday, Oct 2|
Moderate 81 US AQI
|Monday, Oct 3|
Moderate 72 US AQI
|Tuesday, Oct 4|
Moderate 81 US AQI
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Suwon is a city located in South Korea, Gyeonggi province. It is also the capital and largest city of said province, with some 1.24 million people living there. It lies around 30km away from Seoul, and has a prominent history of having started out as a small settlement and growing into a significant industrial, cultural and economic center, with industry giants such as Samsung electronics having their headquarters there.
Being an industrial hub, as well as having such close proximity to the capital city of Seoul, naturally a city such as Suwon would have some form of elevated pollution levels associated with these features, as is common in many cities near to the capital, many people will be making their daily commutes in and out, with their personal vehicles all contributing to a variety of different pollutants in the air.
In 2019, Suwon came in with a PM2.5 reading of 25.5 μg/m³, placing it into the ‘moderate’ pollution bracket, one that requires a PM2.5 reading of anywhere between 12.1 to 35.4 μg/m³ to be classified as such. Suwon came in on the somewhat higher end of this group rating, an air quality reading that may have detrimental effects on many of its inhabitants, with its PM2.5 number placing it in 598th place out of all cities ranked worldwide, as well as 50th place out of all cities ranked in Korea. This is indicative that Suwon is indeed affected by some less than perfect levels of air pollution, with the reasons as to why being explained in short.
As Suwon, and indeed the country as a whole has seen its economy and industry grow massively over the past few decades, the increase in demand for industrial and general products, homes and infrastructure to support a growing population has naturally lead to a decline in air quality.
One of the main causes of air pollution in Suwon would be the use of vehicles, with a large amount of personal ones such as cars and motorbikes all making their daily commutes back and forth across the city, putting out large amounts of pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sulfur dioxide (SO2), both of which can cause damage to the environment as well as triggering respiratory conditions such as aggravated asthma.
Other causes of pollution would be industrial fumes, with large amounts of factories, industrial areas, production plants and the like all putting out large amounts of fumes and smoke into the air, mostly coming from the combustion of fossil fuels such as coal, which provides the power to the facilities.
As well as this, novel chemicals that are related to whatever item is being manufactured are put into the atmosphere, including plastic fumes, microplastics, fine particulate matter and even toxic metals such as lead and mercury.
Another form of pollution which has a somewhat contentious nature, is that of pollution from Mongolia and China blowing across the sea and permeating the air over Korea. This includes both sandstorms and related PM2.5 and PM10 arising from these natural events, as well as large amounts of smoke from factories and industrial areas across the sea, although as mentioned, this is subject to speculation as to how much actually comes from overseas and how much is purely produced locally. This subject matter aside, the two largest local causes of pollution in Suwon are from vehicles and industrial zones.
Observing the data taken in 2019 as an accurate measure of realistic pollution levels (due to 2020 seeing mass lockdowns occurring due to the covid-19 pandemic, thus skewing the data), there emerges a pattern in when Suwon’s air quality is at its worst.
The air quality starts to decline towards the end of the year, when the winter months start to rear their head. In November the PM2.5 levels rise to 21.2 μg/m³, coming from 16.2 μg/m³ in the month prior. This then continues upwards to 28.3 μg/m³ in December, before the worst levels of pollution are reached in the beginning months of the following year (still using 2019 as a reference here).
January through to March are when the pollution levels are at their absolute worst, with PM2.5 readings of 40.8 μg/m³, 37 μg/m³ and 47.3 μg/m³ respectively, putting them all in the ‘unhealthy for sensitive groups bracket (35.5 to 55.4 μg/m³ required). As the name implies, the air quality during these months would be detrimental to large portions of the population, including the elderly, young children and those with preexisting health conditions. With these numbers, it can be seen that March is the most polluted month in Suwon, followed closely by January and February.
Moving directly on from the previous question, in opposition to the worst months, air quality starts to rapidly improve after the high seen in March, with a reading of 19.4 μg/m³ in April, a considerable drop.
From here until October is when the air quality is at its best (albeit with a sudden spike in May, which is seen in all cities near Seoul). The cleanest month of the entire year was in September, with a PM2.5 reading of 13.3 μg/m³, only 1.3 units away from moving to the ‘good’ ratings bracket.
Although chances of negative health issues rise accordingly with the PM2.5 readings, or overall levels of air pollution, it should be noted that any reading over the WHO's target goal of 10 μg/m³ or less has the chance to cause unwanted symptoms and health issues.
Some of these would include short term ones such as irritation to the mucous membranes, with the eyes, nose, ears and even the skin being affected. Others include damage to the lung tissue and premature aging of the respiratory tract, not only reducing life expectancy and raising cancer rates, but making those affected more susceptible to further respiratory conditions and complications such as pneumonia, emphysema, bronchitis and aggravated forms of asthma.