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Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups
|Air pollution level||Air quality index||Main pollutant|
|Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups|| 139 US AQI||PM2.5|
PM2.5 concentration in Incheon is currently 10.2 times the WHO annual air quality guideline value
|Wednesday, Sep 28|
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups 103 US AQI
|Thursday, Sep 29|
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups 110 US AQI
|Friday, Sep 30|
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups 146 US AQI
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups 139 US AQI
|Sunday, Oct 2|
Moderate 81 US AQI
|Monday, Oct 3|
Moderate 61 US AQI
|Tuesday, Oct 4|
Good 50 US AQI
|Wednesday, Oct 5|
Good 37 US AQI
|Thursday, Oct 6|
Good 37 US AQI
|Friday, Oct 7|
Good 36 US AQI
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Incheon is officially known as the Incheon Metropolitan City and is located in the north-western part of South Korea. In February 2020 the population was estimated to be around 3 million people.
In early 2021, Incheon was experiencing “Moderate” quality air with a US AQI reading of 99 according to suggested figures by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Other levels of pollutants were as follows: PM2.5 - 35 µg/m³, PM10 - 54 µg/m³, ozone (O3) - 8 µg/m³, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) - 100.6 µg/m³, sulphur dioxide (SO2) – 13.1 µg/m³ and carbon monoxide (CO) - 973.3 µg/m³. With levels such as these, the advice is to close doors and windows to prevent the ingress of dirty air and those of a sensitive disposition should avoid venturing outside unless it is unavoidable, in which case, a good quality mask should be worn.
From 2009 and 2013, the city’s average PM10 concentrations were higher than in many of the largest metropolitan cities in the world such as Los Angeles, Tokyo, Paris and London.
Every spring, countries in East Asia suffer from dust storms brought in by the prevailing winds. These dust storms originate in the Inner Mongolian region of western China. Because of this, there is a noticeable rise in respiratory problems at that time of year. The mortality rate was seen to increase, as well.
Air pollution in Incheon comes from many sources but primarily it is due to the rapid industrialisation that happened in recent years. The rapid industrialisation of South Korea was fuelled by coal-burning power stations that provided the much-needed energy that the manufacturing industries craved for. The economy of South Korea grew on an annual basis by 10 per cent during the 1980s and 1990s. With this development came a renewed demand for private cars which were now affordable due to job stability.
The air quality is also affected by foreign-produced pollution. This may come from as far away as China as it is carried on the prevailing winds. It has been proved that between 30 to 50 per cent of South Korea’s dirty air comes from China. In particular the PM2.5 particles. If the weather deteriorates, this percentage can rise as high as 80 per cent.
Incheon City is planning to actively establish regional air environment policy research through the ‘Air Quality Diagnosis and Evaluation System'. This system, which was inaugurated in 2018 and completed in June 2020 under the supervision of the Incheon City Institute of Health and Environment, intends to set up a meteorological model, a photochemical air pollution model, and a detailed analysis program according to the current situation of Incheon City, and then air pollution and meteorological factors. It is an information system that generates data on the current state of air pollution in Incheon and how it will change by collecting and processing data such as material emissions at all times. It is expected that it will be possible to analyse the atmospheric conditions in the Incheon area in more detail. Additionally, it will be possible to accumulate data related to air pollution status and provide various data from time to time, whilst additional research will enable air pollution diagnosis and evaluation suitable for the Incheon area conditions, and the provision of policy data for air pollution improvement.
The Incheon Institute of Health and Environment has built this air quality diagnosis and evaluation system to actively respond to the increasingly diverse and complex air pollution situation, and to strengthen the basis for air quality observation and analysis, as well as a total of 30 expanded measurement networks. In order to analyse specific sources of air pollution, focusing on fine dust, research is underway to establish a related infrastructure, such as installing a fine dust component measurement network which will specifically measure concentrations of PM2.5 which is possibly the most detrimental to human health.
In 2018, the local government provided over 4 billion won for prevention facilities to 59 companies. If included until last year, the total amount would have been 13.5 billion won, the highest among the county and districts, and 161 prevention facilities were replaced. This amounts to 14 per cent of all prevention facilities installed in the city. These prevention facilities usually refer to the treatment of the exhaust gases emitted from chimneys. It can remove the sulphur content as well as the nitrogen pollutants. It was confirmed that the replaced prevention facility showed remarkable results, such as an average of 34 per cent reduction in dust concentration among air pollutants emitted. In addition, the district is also expecting significant environmental improvement synergies, both directly and indirectly, from reducing civil complaints, reducing the number of chimneys, and improving the visible environment through the removal of old facilities.
It has been reported that the dust kills up to 165 South Koreans each year mainly elderly people and those with pre-existing respiratory problems. 1.8 million citizens are also reported to be ill because of this.
The main reason why air pollution is often called “the Silent Killer” is because people learn to live with it and almost accept it. There are both short and long-term effects of breathing in polluted air. There are many factors though to take into account such as the level of concentration of the pollutants within the air as well as their composition. The length of time of exposure is also important as frequent exposure is obviously more harmful than an occasional occurrence. The current state of health of the individual is important too.
Physical symptoms may not become obvious immediately and the severity will vary from one person to another.
Air pollution can lead to respiratory complications, an increased chance of lung disease, hospitalisation due to cardiac problems and increased chances of developing cancer. Fatigue, wheezing and coughing are milder symptoms but important, nevertheless. Those suffering from asthma will find they have more frequent attacks and possibly longer-lasting. Skin rashes can erupt because of air pollution, too.
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