Press Release

Board View

Reducing Fine Dust during the Spring Season: Protecting Public Health through Cross-Agency Comprehensive Response

▷ Intensive inspection of indoor air quality in multi-use facilities and schools, dust reduction on construction sites, and expansion of coal-fired power generation shutdown for a comprehensive response to reduce fine dust

The Ministry of Environment (Minister Han Wha-jin) will activate a comprehensive response system in collaboration with relevant ministries* from February 27 to March 31 to prepare for the high concentration of fine dust (PM2.5) during the spring season.

* Office for Government Policy Coordination; Ministry of Environment; Ministry of the Interior and Safety; Ministry of Education; Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs; Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy; Ministry for Health and Welfare; Ministry of Employment and Labor; Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport; Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries; Rural Development Administration, Korea Forest Service

This comprehensive response to fine dust comes in response to President Yoon Suk Yeol's emphasis during the National Security Council meeting held on February 20. The president stated, "With the atmosphere stagnant due to such abnormal climate phenomena as El Niйo, the concentration of fine dust is expected to be higher than usual. The Ministry of Environment and related ministries must respond with full force."

Throughout the year, March has the highest concentration of fine dust, and it is the month with the most 'bad days' (days with a concentration of 36㎍/㎥ or higher). According to Korea Meteorological Administration's weather forecast (February to April 2024), March this year is expected to have higher temperatures than the average year, mainly influenced by high atmospheric pressure, which may lead to frequent occurrences of high-concentration fine dust due to atmospheric stagnation.     

* 2016~2023 Average: (PM2.5 concentration) December 24.2㎍/㎥ → January 26.7㎍/㎥ → February 27.1㎍/㎥ → March 27.7㎍/㎥ (Number of 'bad days') December five days → January seven days → February seven days → March nine days 

In response, the government is focusing on strengthening the on-site implementation of reduction measures included in the 5th Fine Dust Seasonal Management Plan* implemented since December 1, 2023. It is actively engaging with relevant ministries, local governments, and the private sector to collectively work towards reducing fine dust during the spring season. This comprehensive response includes three main directions: 1) Intensive management of citizens' living spaces, 2) Enhanced implementation of tasks during spring season, and 3) Enhancement of execution capability for core emission sources. The key contents are as follows.      

* The 5th Seasonal Management Plan (December 2023~March 2024) aims to reduce fine dust and its precursors by approximately 108,000 tons through enhanced particulate matter reduction policies during the specified period compared to normal times.

First, focus on managing fine dust in the daily living spaces of the citizens. 

Facilities frequently used by citizens, such as underground passages, railway concourses, etc., undergo special inspections for ventilation and air purification systems. Additionally, wet cleaning is conducted three times or more per day. High-pollution or heavily trafficked roads may see an expansion of street sweeping operations, with cleaning vehicles operating up to a maximum of four times a day. 

Moreover, in preparation for the new school term, schools conduct a thorough inspection of indoor air quality. For users of facilities such as kindergartens and elderly care centers, guidance and education on behavior in the event of high-concentration occurrences are provided. Additionally, in cases of prolonged high-concentration fine dust*, flexible work arrangements are actively recommended for sensitive and vulnerable groups such as pregnant women and those with respiratory conditions.       

* If the fine dust crisis remains at the 'Concern' level for two or more days or is elevated to the 'Caution' level or higher.

Second, management will be strengthened for tasks where there is a possibility of fluctuations in fine dust emissions during the spring season. 

Reflecting the conditions of reduced heating demand compared to winter, the operational stoppage period for public coal-fired power generation is expanded from 15 units in winter (December 2023~February 2024) to 28 units in spring. 

To prevent illegal open burning as agricultural activities commence, there is a concentrated collection of agricultural waste. Moreover, in areas adjacent to forests, shredding support teams are actively operated to support the shredding and recycling of agricultural residues. 

As construction projects intensify during the spring season, there is a concentrated inspection of dust reduction measures for construction sites around residential areas. Checks are conducted to ensure the proper implementation of dust reduction measures such as installing dust covers, sealing loading bins, wetting the area, and enforcing restrictions on the use of outdated construction machinery. 

A campaign is being conducted to ensure compliance with speed limits (10 km/h-40 km/h) for large port entry and exit vehicles in the four major ports (Busan, Incheon, Yeosu-Gwangyang, Ulsan). Additionally, checks on ship fuel oil (sulfur content) standards* will be strengthened. 

* Emission control areas (Busan, Incheon, Yeosu-Gwangyang, Ulsan, Pyeongtaek-Dangjin) 0.1%, other areas 0.5%

Third, the on-site execution capabilities of major emission sources will be enhanced to increase the effectiveness of fine dust reduction. 

For businesses emitting a large amount of fine dust and its precursor substances, the regional environmental agency director manages the emission quantities and progress in reduction goals on a weekly basis.  

For particularly sensitive facilities, drones and mobile measurement vehicles with advanced monitoring equipment are used to conduct special inspections on illegal emissions. Additionally, there is a focused crackdown on emission gases and illegal idling for large diesel vehicles and buses frequently moving within urban areas.

Public facilities, such as incineration plants, operated by the public sector, actively pursue additional emission reduction through operational adjustments, such as adjusting operating rates, when emergency reduction measures are implemented. 

Minister Han Wha-jin of the Ministry of Environment stated, "Every spring, there is significant concern and apprehension among the public regarding high concentrations of fine dust." She emphasized, "Through close collaboration between relevant ministries, we will make a full-scale effort to manage and respond to fine dust during the spring season."

For further information, please contact the Public Relations Division. 

Contact person: Gina Lee, foreign media spokesperson

Phone: +82-44-201-6055

Email: gcjgina