Press Release

Board View

Summer Ozone Concentration Management for Protecting Public Health

▷ Reduction of ozone generating substances and management of emission situations at facilities, support for emission reduction technologies, refinement of ozone forecast categories, rapid dissemination of high ozone situations and guidance on response measures

The Ministry of Environment (Minister Han Wha-jin) is promoting the ‘Summer High-concentration Ozone Management Plan’ to reduce ozone-generating substances and strengthen awareness of response measures to protect public health during the period of high ozone* (O3) concentration (May-August). 

* Nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are primarily generated through ultraviolet radiation and photochemical reactions. Repeated exposure to high concentrations of ozone can have negative effects on the respiratory system.

From May to August each year, ozone levels are at their highest, and high-concentration ozone occurs frequently during this period*. Therefore, the Ministry is proactively taking action in collaboration with relevant ministries, local governments, and the private sector to reduce high-concentration ozone during the summer season.

* In 2023, there were 62 days with ozone advisories (0.12 ppm or higher), with 55 days (89%) occurring between May and August. 

First, the Ministry focuses on managing the key sources of ozone-generating substances.

During periods of high ozone concentration, the regional environmental management offices under the Ministry, the National Institute of Environmental Science (NIER), and the Korea Environment Corporation (KECO), inspects industrial facilities located in industrial complexes and other areas with significant emissions of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds, in collaboration with local governments.  

We primarily assess the effective functioning of emission and prevention facilities, along with the oversight of automatic chimney measuring devices, at 50 workplaces emitting substantial amounts of nitrogen oxides. We also ensure adherence to management standards for fugitive emission facilities* at 300 workplaces releasing significant volumes of volatile organic compounds, including those within the petrochemical industry.

* Facilities where air pollutants are directly released (leaked) into the atmosphere, unlike point sources such as chimneys.

For 81 small and medium-sized enterprises where managing fugitive emissions facilities is challenging, and for 188 gas stations where vapor recovery system management is weak, technical support* is provided concurrently. 

* For poorly managed facilities, suggestions include installing and optimally operating sealed and captured facilities, as well as proposing improvements in the operation of vapor recovery systems at gas stations.

In regions densely populated with major industrial complexes and large-scale petrochemical industrial complexes of each air control zone, where significant air pollutant emissions occur, atmospheric pollutant emissions are continuously monitored using drones, mobile advanced surveillance equipment, and other tools. 

Furthermore, support is provided for the installation of pollution prevention facilities (2,000) at small-scale emission facilities (types 4 and 5), along with the early scrappage of old diesel vehicles (180,000 units). In addition, initiatives include the distribution of eco-friendly construction machinery (200 electric excavators, 20 hydrogen forklifts) and the installation of low NOx boilers (25,000 units). 

Second, we strengthen measures to protect public health from high concentrations of ozone. 

To prevent health risks from ozone exposure, we promptly provide information on high ozone concentrations and recommended actions to the public using platforms such as Air Korea and roadside electronic displays.  

In schools, kindergartens, and facilities for the elderly, we proactively provide guidance on actions to take during high ozone concentrations in advance. Moreover, through platforms such as G-BUS in Gyeonggi Province and subway stations, we plan to actively promote measures to reduce ozone and respond to high ozone concentrations.   

Third, we enhance the scientific management foundation for ozone.  

We analyze the causes and types of ozone generation by region and conduct research to investigate the characteristics of volatile organic compound emissions from industries and processes. Based on emission characteristics, we explore scientific ozone response measures tailored to each industry and process.  

In addition, to promptly respond to high ozone concentrations, we refine ozone forecast categories* and seek input from experts, relevant agencies, etc., to drive improvements across the ozone regulatory framework**.     

* Today/Tomorrow: Level 4 (Good - Moderate - Bad - Very Bad), Forecast summary of the day after tomorrow → Level 4 for today/tomorrow/the day after tomorrow.

** Adjustment of the number of ozone al.ert zones (141 for ozone, 58 for fine dust), and clarification of criteria for lifting ozone advisories

Jeong Seon-hwa, Director General of the Air Quality Policy Bureau, stated, “During the period from May to August, when sunlight is intense and temperatures rise, high concentrations of ozone can occur at any time.” She added, “We will actively promote measures to manage high concentrations of ozone and do our best to protect public health from ozone.”

For further information, please contact the Public Relations Division. 

Contact person: Gina Lee, foreign media spokesperson

Phone: +82-44-201-6055

Email: gcjgina