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Environment Ministry to test-run forecasts of fine dust levels in Seoul area

The Environment Ministry said Wednesday that it will test-run a fine dust forecasting service in Seoul and its adjacent areas starting this weekend before officially expanding the service nationwide early next year. 

The measure is aimed at preventing health issues from arising due to high-density air pollution by informing the people of the level of pollution before it affects the environment, according to the ministry.

The new system will be operating in the capital area from Friday and be expanded to other parts of the country in November before the service can be implemented nationwide in February 2014, it said.

Fine dust is defined as particles smaller than 10 micrometers, and if inhaled it can cause various respiratory diseases and undermine the body’s immunity.

The dust report will provide information on air quality in a scale of five ― good, so-so, slightly bad, bad and very bad ― based on the average concentration of fine dust, the ministry said.

According to the ministry, when pollutants in the air reach one of the three “bad” levels, meaning that there is a fine dust concentration of at least 81 micrograms per cubic meter in the atmosphere, notices will be disseminate through televised and radio weather reports, the ministry’s website and smart devices like smartphones and tablets. 

When the concentration reaches 121 micrograms per cubic meter or higher, residents will be advised to refrain from outdoor activities and are recommended to dry their laundry indoors, it said.

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