Press Release

Board View

Protecting Public Health Through the Implementation of Fine Dust Seasonal Management

▷ Prime Minister Han Duck-soo presides over the 11th Special Committee on Fine Dust 

▷ Comprehensive efforts to reduce fine dust such as intensive inspection of indoor air quality in public living spaces, expansion of restrictions on old diesel vehicle operations, suspension of coal power generation, etc.

▷ Anticipated reduction of approximately 108,000 tons in ultrafine particles and an expected decrease of 1.4 μg/m³ in ultrafine particle concentration during the seasonal management period

Prime Minister Han Duck-soo presided over the 11th Special Committee on Fine Dust on the morning of November 24 at the Government Seoul Complex, with Professor Moon Gil-ju as the co-chair. In this meeting, the '5th Fine Dust Seasonal Management Plan' was deliberated and finally ed.

* A committee under the Prime Minister, consisting of government and private sector members, including the co-chairs, with a total of fewer than 40 members, to deliberate on major policies, plans, and implementation related to fine dust (Fine Dust Act Articles 10-11).

** Attending members

△Private (15 members): Moon Gil-ju (Chairman), Jang Yeong-gi, Bae Gwi-nam, Im Yeong-wook, Yoo Yeong, Jeon Hye-yeong, Lee Mi-hye, Choo Jang-min, Woo Jeong-heon, Lee Seung-mook, Ha Ji-won, Bae Min-seok, Park Ji-yeong, Lee Mi-ok, Song Mi-jeong

△Government (12 members): Minister of Environment, Chief Presidential Secretary, Vice Ministers of Education; Science and ICT; Culture, Sports and Tourism; Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs; Health and Welfare; Employment and Labor; Oceans and Fisheries; and Interior and Safety, Director of the Korea Forest Service, and Director of the Korea Meteorological Administration 

The Fine Dust Seasonal Management Plan is a system that implements measures to reduce and manage air pollutant emissions more than usual from December 1 to March 31 each year, when fine dust concentrations are typically higher due to seasonal factors.

This season management plan focuses on improving daily living spaces closer to people's everyday lives to ensure that the public can tangibly experience the reduction of fine dust. It also provides guidance and inspections to ensure that reduction measures are properly implemented in key emission sources such as transportation and industry, based on science and on-site assessments. 

Furthermore, the reduction target for fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) and its precursors is approximately 108,000 tons, aiming to achieve a 2.3% reduction compared to the previous year. Through this, it is expected that the average concentration of fine particulate matter during the implementation period of the seasonal management plan will decrease by about 1.4 μg/m³.

The key points discussed in the '5th Fine Dust Seasonal Management Plan' during the meeting on this day are as follows.

First, efforts will be made to improve fine dust conditions, starting from living spaces closest to the daily lives of the citizens. 

- Daycare centers, schools, elderly care facilities, and other facilities catering to sensitive and vulnerable groups will strengthen on-site inspections of indoor air quality even before the implementation of the seasonal management plan. In addition, special inspections will be conducted on the proper functioning of ventilation and air purification facilities in 4,701 multi-use facilities such as underground spaces and assembly halls, with a comprehensive inspection of 331 underground subway stations in the Seoul area. Future plans include developing indoor air quality management guidelines for each multi-use facility to utilize in managing fine dust during periods of high concentration. 

- Measures to reduce fine dust near residential areas, including roads and construction sites, are being intensively implemented. For roads with heavy traffic, street cleaning operations will be increased, and the introduction of eco-friendly cleaning vehicles will be expanded. Construction sites will be subject to inspections regarding dust reduction measures such as dustproof covers, sealed loading compartments, and dust suppression through watering. In addition, 335 major construction sites will publicly disclose real-time fine dust concentrations for easy access by nearby residents. 

- In rural areas, plans include expanding cumulative farm waste collection facilities to 9,300 locations to reduce illegal burning. Collaborating with farming organizations, there will be focused support for the collection and shredding of agricultural residues targeting vulnerable groups such as the elderly. 

- Furthermore, the forecast for high concentrations of fine dust within 36 hours will expand its coverage from the existing metropolitan area to include the Chungcheong and Honam regions. This expansion aims to enable residents in the affected areas to respond more promptly to high concentrations of fine dust. Information on high-concentration forecasts will be made available in real-time through various channels, including schools, roads, and the Air Korea website, along with air quality information in national living spaces.

Second, there will be a concentrated reduction and management of major sources of fine dust emissions based on scientific and on-site assessments. 

- In the industrial sector, 375 major facilities will enter into voluntary agreements to induce a 45% reduction in emissions compared to pre-seasonal management levels. In addition, there will be strengthened monitoring and supervision of illegal fine dust emissions using real-time remote monitoring equipment and advanced surveillance devices at the National Air Pollution Advanced Monitoring Center of National Institute of Environmental Research (NIER). Not only chimney automatic measuring instruments (TMS) for existing large-scale facilities but also Internet of Things (IoT) measurement devices for small and medium-sized facilities will remotely collect emission concentrations and operational information of prevention facilities. Advanced equipment such as unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), mobile measurement vehicles, and spectrometers will be utilized for collecting emission information in pollution-prone areas. Various collected data will be communicated to local governments and facilities to encourage improvement of prevention facilities. For vulnerable facilities, simultaneous support for technical diagnosis and replacement of prevention facilities will be provided.

- In coal power generation, the shutdown of up to 15 units will be promoted* and the implementation of an upper limit restriction, capping the output of a maximum of 47 units at 80%. Concurrently, atmospheric pollution prevention facilities** have been improved, and emission targets have been downwardly adjusted compared to the previous year. In addition, for energy conservation during the winter season, the public sector will actively implement energy-saving measures, such as maintaining indoor heating temperatures at 18°C for each institution, prohibiting the use of personal heating devices, and reducing lighting in underground parking lots by 50%. The government plans to evaluate the performance of these measures. The private sector will lead public participation through nationwide campaigns and promotions.

* The scale of shutdowns and upper limit restrictions for March 2024 was ed in February 2024.

** A total investment of KRW 217.2 billion has been allocated for the facility construction of five aged coal power generators (Boryeong #4, #5, #6, Dangjin #1, #4)

- The restricted areas for Grade 5 emission vehicles will be expanded from the existing metropolitan area, Busan, and Daegu to include Daejeon, Gwangju, Ulsan, and Sejong this year, following a one-year grace period. Enforcement and on-site inspections will be applied in the same manner as in previous years. Plans include streamlining the verification process for determining whether aging diesel vehicles are subject to inspection, aiming to minimize inconvenience for individuals at the inspection sites.

* (December 2020~) Metropolitan Area, (December 2022~) Busan, Daegu, (December 2023~) Daejeon, Gwangju, Ulsan, Sejong

- Ships will undergo strengthened inspections related to fuel oil (sulfur content*), and slow steaming of vessels will be expanded in the four major ports (Busan, Incheon, Yeosu-Gwangyang, Ulsan). In addition, there will be enforcement of speed limits (10~40 km/h) for vehicles operating within the ports.

* Busan, Incheon Port, Yeosu-Gwangyang Port, Ulsan Port, Pyeongtaek-Dangjin Port: 0.1%, Other areas: 0.5%

Third, the public sector takes the lead in reduction efforts, while expanding cooperation with the international community.

- Public facilities such as district heating companies and resource recovery facilities, along with public-grade 5 emission vehicles, will implement emission reductions (October~) and operational restrictions (November~) from before the start of the seasonal management period. In the event of a high likelihood of an emergency reduction order, precautionary reduction measures, such as shortening the operation of public facilities and construction sites, will be implemented nationwide one day in advance. The two-day rotation system for public sector vehicles, which was temporarily suspended due to the escalation of the COVID-19 crisis level, will be implemented when an emergency reduction order is issued following a decrease in the crisis level.

- Moreover, there are plans to expand cooperation not only with China but also with international organizations to address fine dust issues. Cooperation with China includes mutual collaboration on measures during the seasonal management period, sharing information on high concentrations, and conducting joint research in forecasting and air quality assessment. Collaboration with international organizations such as the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) aims to explore regional cooperation for improving air quality in East Asia. During this seasonal management period, the NIER in South Korea and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the United States will conduct joint air quality investigations using aerial observation instruments, environmental satellites, and ground observations in the Korean Peninsula and East Asia.

To ensure the proper implementation of this seasonal management plan in the field, the government will establish a cross-government implementation inspection team centered around the Office of the Prime Minister and will regularly inspect the progress of each task. In the event of high concentrations of fine dust, emergency measures will be implemented in stages according to the 'Ultrafine Dust Disaster Crisis Management Standard Manual' to prioritize the protection of public health.

Private Sector Chairman Moon Gil-ju stated, "As we mark the 5th anniversary since the establishment of the Special Committee on Fine Dust, it is necessary to reflect on the path we have walked." He added, "Due to various measures such as the suspension of coal power plants and early scrappage of diesel vehicles, the concentration of air pollutants has continuously decreased." He requested, "As we have been doing so far, we urge the central government, local governments, and the public to actively cooperate in the 5th Seasonal Management Plan."

Prime Minister Han stated, "This winter is expected to see increased atmospheric stagnation, and there are concerns that the concentration of fine dust will rise as social and economic activities in China and South Korea recover after COVID-19." He emphasized, "We cannot afford to loosen the reins on reducing fine dust during this seasonal management period." However, he requested, "Ensure that the implementation of reduction policies, such as the restriction of old diesel vehicle operations, does not exacerbate the difficulties faced by small business owners or low-income groups."

Furthermore, Han emphasized the need for close cooperation with China to address the influx of fine dust from abroad. He stated, "To reduce fine dust, the public sector must take the lead," and he urged, "During emergency reduction measures, not only the executive branch but also the National Assembly, the National Election Commission, the Constitutional Court and the judiciary, the Board of Audit and Inspection, and other constitutional institutions should actively participate in the two-day rotation system for public sector vehicles."