Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Persistent Air Pollution Problem in Korea

As reported in The Korea Times today accompanied by the photo at left (click for a full size version of this "all too familiar sight"), "Korea has worst air of advanced economies." Although The Korea Times report cites the OECD as the source, it appears the data come from The State of Global Air 2017  (download the PDF here)and its accompanying website (explore and visualize the data online here).
I'm teaching an undergraduate class this semester on ICT for Sustainable Development (ICT4SD) with 24 students who no doubt have some of the same questions that you and I do about the extent, possible control and health effects of air pollution.  We're using Korea as a point of reference throughout the class.  One of my questions has been the relative contribution of China versus Korea to pollution over the Korean peninsula.  We should look to the data, rather than our hunches for an answer to this question.  In that regard, current research seems to show that South Korea itself generates a significant proportion of the fine particle pollution in this country, and that pollution emanating from China also contributes, although not as much as one might suppose.  In any event, the reduction of such pollution in northeast Asia will involve collaborative efforts by both nations.

1 comment:

  1. Hello James, I also suspect much of our Korean air pollution is generated locally. For example, there is a coal fueled power plant on the shore of Yeongheungdo, 20km southwest of Songdo. I suspect some of our worst air conditions occur when plant operations and wind conditions align to send that pollution to us.