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|Air pollution level||Air quality index||Main pollutant|
|Good|| 15 US AQI||O3|
PM2.5 concentration in Daejeon air currently meets the WHO annual air quality guideline value
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|Thursday, May 25|
Moderate 54 US AQI
|Friday, May 26|
Moderate 53 US AQI
|Saturday, May 27|
Moderate 61 US AQI
|Sunday, May 28|
Good 21 US AQI
Good 15 US AQI
|Tuesday, May 30|
Moderate 55 US AQI
|Wednesday, May 31|
Good 35 US AQI
|Thursday, Jun 1|
Good 27 US AQI
|Friday, Jun 2|
Moderate 53 US AQI
|Saturday, Jun 3|
Moderate 80 US AQI
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Daejeon is a city located in the mid region of South Korea, with a population of 1.5 million, with numbers in the lower estimate range due to this census data having been taken in 2010, and thus would have grown significantly since then. It is the fifth largest city in the country, and considered a major transport hub for the country, being well connected with many cities via numerous roads, motorways and trainlines, being only 50 minutes away from the capital city of Seoul if one is to use the KTX, the highspeed rail system in place in South Korea.
Observing some of the air pollution readings taken towards the end of 2020 and as well as the early portion of 2021 as guides to go by, it becomes apparent that Daejeon is subject to some fairly prominent pollutive issues. PM2.5 readings up to highs of 31.6 μg/m³ were taken at the end of December 2020, a reading that would place it in the ‘moderate’ pollution bracket, a group rating that requires a PM2.5 reading of anywhere between 12.1 to 35.4 μg/m³ to be classified as such. As it stands, this reading is on the absolute higher end of this scale, only a few units away from moving into the more hazardous ‘unhealthy for sensitive groups’ rating, which requires a PM2.5 reading of 35.5 to 55.4 μg/m³ for classification.
In some contrast, there were a few days that came in with more appreciable readings, with a PM2.5 number of 8.3 μg/m³ having also been taken in late 2020, as well as a few lower readings of 8.5 μg/m³ and 10.3 μg/m³ having been taken in early January. Whilst these would have placed those days into the World Health Organizations (WHO's) target goal rating (10 μg/m³ or less required), or the ‘good’ group rating (10 to 12 μg/m³ required), they are overwhelmingly surrounded by readings that come in averaging 28 μg/m³ and above, so as such it can be said that Daejeon has some pollutive issues occurring, particularly during the colder months when these readings were taken.
Like many cities in South Korea, Daejeon is subject to numerous sources of pollution that compound each other when added together, and are made worse during certain times of the year due to meteorological conditions, such as the extreme colds of winter, making the situation considerably worse. Reasons for this include the massive increase in the use of heating for both homes and places of businesses, and as such power plants will have a significantly higher demand placed on them. This in turn causes them to go through larger amounts of fossil fuels such as coal to provide these energy demands, which releases large amounts of pollutants and chemicals into the air, some of which will be discussed in greater detail in following.
Other causes of pollution would be the ever present usage of vehicles, something that is not just a problem in Daejeon but indeed the whole world. Vehicles put out large amounts of contaminants such as nitrogen dioxide (NO2) as well as sulfur dioxide (SO2), with nitrogen dioxide being one of the more noteworthy offenders here. Areas that see high volumes of traffic often have direct correlation with a high level of nitrogen dioxide in the atmosphere, as the two often go hand in hand. Vehicles also put out fine particulate matter such as black carbon, a major component in soot which finds its release from factories as well, or any site or area that has some form of open fire or combustion taking place. These are some of the other main causes of pollution in Daejeon, as well as a few of the chemical contaminants they release.
With PM2.5 readings going up to 30.1 μg/m³ as taken in early January 2021, there would be a large amount of issues that could arise for certain individuals who are exposed to high levels of pollution on a daily basis. There are certain groups that are more at risk as well, with pregnant mothers, young children, the elderly as well as the sick or immunocompromised topping the list for those who are most vulnerable.
Health problems that may appear would include short term ones such as irritation to the eyes, nose, mouth and skin as well, causing rashes or other dermal problems to present themselves, as well as a massive increase in allergies, particularly amongst young children. More serious long term issues would be ones such as heightened rates of cancer, particularly of the throat and lungs, or any area of the respiratory tract.
Further pulmonary conditions may also present themselves, such as a reduction in full lung function, and higher susceptibility towards ailments such as pneumonia, bronchitis, emphysema and aggravated forms of asthma, even triggering it off in people who may have never suffered from it before.
Of note is that Korea tends to suffer from heightened levels of pollution in the winter months, due to the previously mentioned reasons. When the air quality drops to more appreciable levels, the chances of these conditions occurring, as well as their severity would go down significantly.
Despite this, it must be mentioned that any air pollution reading over the WHO's target goal of 10 μg/m³ or less has the chance to cause adverse health effects, and as such people should always remain vigilant and try to keep themselves safe when caught in areas of high pollution through the use of preventative measures such as wearing fine particle filtering masks, or avoiding outdoor activities if possible.
Using examples of other cities round the world that have significantly improved the quality of their air, Daejeon and indeed the whole of South Korea could make steps towards reducing the amount of pollution put out into the atmosphere by placing emission caps, or limits, on areas such as industrial zones, factories or even national power plants, holding those who breach the safe levels of pollution emission accountable through the use of fines or threat of closure if guidelines are not kept to.
As well as this, national level measures such as the gradual phasing out of fossil fuel use in factories, and moving towards utilizing more sustainable and clean energy sources to provide power to the ever growing population.
2 Data sources