The environmental policy paradigm has recently shifted to a focus on prevention, and there is growing demand for receptor-oriented environmental management policies that comprehensively account for the impact of harmful substances on public health and ecosystems. Accordingly, air quality management policies are also shifting towards a risk orientation and giving priority to protecting public health.

Improvement of the Air Pollutant Classification System

The Clean Air Conservation Act has classified pollutants into air pollutants and specific hazardous air pollutants, and it has been pointed out that classification standards are ambiguous and lack consistency. There were also substances that were omitted even though they must be managed as air pollutants due to their high emission volumes and large risks. Consequently, it became necessary to review the air pollutant classification system and reorganize it with a focus on risks.

Accordingly, the Clean Air Conservation Act was amended in 2012 to reclassify air pollutants into monitored hazardous air pollutants and specific hazardous air pollutants and to specify such classification standards as substance toxicity, impact on ecosystems, atmospheric emission volume, and pollution level. These classifications are required to be designated via an air pollutant evaluation committee.

A “monitored hazardous air pollutant” is an air pollutant that may be harmful to human health or animal and plant growth and development, and is deemed by committee evaluation to require continuous measurement, monitoring, or observation. A “specific hazardous air pollutant” is a monitored hazardous air pollutant that may be directly or indirectly harmful to human health or animal and plant growth and development in the event of long-term consumption or exposure, even at low concentrations, and is deemed by committee evaluation to require atmospheric emission control.

Indices for air pollutant evaluation were prepared in 2014. Committee evaluations will begin in 2014 and the results will be applied to law amendments starting from 2015.

Improvement of the Air Pollutant Classification System

Air Pollutant Evaluation Indices

2nd Seoul Metropolitan Air Quality Improvement Plan (2015-2024)

The first Seoul Metropolitan Air Quality Master Plan ends in 2014, and a second master plan (2015-2024) was formulated in December 2013 with a focus on reinforcing human health risks until 2024.

The second Seoul Metropolitan Air Quality Control Master Plan promotes air quality improvement with a focus on managing human health risks by adding ultrafine particles (PM2.5) and ozone (O3), which pose major risks to human health, to the list of managed substances. It aims to reduce the emission of each pollutant by 34 to 56% of BAU.

Pollutants Managed by the Seoul Metropolitan Air Quality Improvement Plan

The second master plan continues to implement key reduction measures from the first master plan, including distribution of eco-friendly vehicles, management of exhaust gases from vehicles in operation, and tightened permissible smokestack emission levels for establishments. It also aims to intensively manage high-risk pollutants distributed throughout everyday surroundings by providing support to replace home boilers with low NOx boilers and prescribing control measures for VOC sources such as laundry shops, gas stations, painting facilities, printing offices, and everyday consumables.

Facility Management Standards on Fugitive Emissions of Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs)

Air pollution was previously managed with a focus on permissible emission levels for smokestacks, resulting in a lack of control measures for pollutants (fugitive dust emissions) emitted directly by processes and facilities other than smokestacks. A chemical emissions survey in 2010 found that approximately 61% of the 50,000 tons of annual emissions of 388 hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) were fugitive emissions from non-smokestack facilities and processes.

In order to reduce the fugitive emissions of air pollutants, facility management standards for HAP-emitting facilities were enacted when the Clean Air Conservation Act was amended in 2012, and they will be effective as of January 1, 2015. Permissible emission levels, reduction facility installation and operation, leakage monitoring, and maintenance standards will be applicable to each industry according to the facility management standards, and it will be compulsory to appoint administrators and to keep and report on operation records.

Facility management standards are being prepared and enacted according to the annual plan for each industry. Establishments are being provided with guidance and training and relevant guidelines are being prepared before the standards come into force in 2015.

VOC Control System

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are carcinogenic and otherwise highly toxic precursors of ozone (O3), which induces atmospheric photochemical smog. Average annual ozone concentrations in major cities have been increasing over the past 10 years. In Seoul, the average annual ozone concentration increased from 14ppb in 2003 to 22ppb in 2013, an increase of approximately 50% over 10 years.

To address such issues, the previous VOC control system is being reviewed from various angles to identify problems and prepare improvement measures. The first problem is that only 37 types of VOC substances and products have been designated as control targets, creating a blind spot in management. Second, although facility management standards are being operated to reduce VOCs, matters such as treatment efficiency have not been suggested, and it is difficult to check whether treatment has actually taken place. Third, there is a lack of control measures for VOCs in everyday surroundings, despite the fact that everyday consumables such as adhesives, insecticides, and cosmetics account for about 15% of VOC emissions and that laundry shops, printing offices, small painting facilities, and other small VOC sources are scattered around residential areas.

Accordingly, control target VOCs will be re-identified based on ozone-producing ability and a reorganization road map will be prepared on facility management standards for VOC-emitting establishments starting in 2014. Controls will also be reinforced by formulating control measures for everyday VOCs based on basic investigations of laundry facilities and other small emitters and everyday consumables and by preparing VOC content limits for everyday consumables.

Recovery measures for gasoline vapor at gas stations will also be strengthened. Ozone concentrations in medium to large cities with a population of 500,000 or more are exceeding environmental standards2) at a continuously increasing frequency. Gasoline vapor from gas stations is not only one of the causes, but it also acts as an environmental pollution source located in close proximity to the everyday lives of the public. Accordingly, regions that are required to install gasoline vapor recovery facilities are being expanded from atmosphere preservation special countermeasure areas and air quality control areas to urban regions with a population of 500,000 or more.
2) Based on 8hr.

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Last modified : 2017-12-12 08:38

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