한국 청정 대기 행동 (Korea Clean Air Action) 2019 by Randell Stroud- Nalini-Global

한국 청정 대기 행동 (Korea Clean Air Action 2019)

By: Randell D Stroud on behalf of Nalini-Global

Submitted to:

3/20/2019

Table of Contents:

I:  Problem Introduction

II: History of yellow dust & fine dust

III. Solutions

 

  I. Introduction:

 This report will attempt to explain the environmental issues facing the Korean peninsula in regards to the “fine dust” or “yellow dust” phenomena which effects the health of Koreans on an annual bases for days, weeks, or even sometimes months at a time.  In this report, we will discuss the history behind these environmental events, its causes, and possible solutions.  “Fine Dust” or “Yellow Dust”, refer to harmful particulates found in the air stemming from the deserts of Mongolia and west China. Pollutants coming from domestic and foreign man-made sources from factories, combustion engines, methane gases, and refineries will also be considered.

 II. History.

“Fine Dust” or “Asian Dust” , affects much of East Asia all-year round but especially during the months of March, April, and May. The yellow tinted particulates derive from the deserts of Mongolia, China and Kazakhstan, where high-speed surface winds and severe dust storms, push sand particles into the atmosphere . These “Sand clouds” are then pushed eastward by wind currents that pass over China, North and South Korea,Japan,  and Eastern Russia. On rare occasion, the particulates are carried as far as the western coast of California, affecting the air quality there to a certain degree.

In recent years, it has become a serious problem due to the increasing industrialization of China and Korea, factories and refineries spew pollutants that mix with the dust coming from the deserts of China. This combination has been causing more frequent occurrences of the fine-dust phenomena. In the last few decades the Aral Sea of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have began drying up due to the diversion of the Amu River and Syr River following a Soviet agricultural program to irrigate Central Asian deserts, mainly for cotton plantations.

Recently, it has been discovered that yellow dust consists of fine dust and ultrafine dust particles.[1] Fine dust consists of fine particular matter (PM). Particles smaller than 10µm in diameter are classified as fine PM (PM10), while particles smaller than 2.5µm in diameter are classified as ultrafine PM (PM2.5). Both fine and ultrafine dust particles impose dangers to health. Fine dust particles are small enough to penetrate deep into the lung alveoli. Ultrafine dust particles are so small that after they also penetrate into the blood or lymphatic system through the lungs. Once in the bloodstream, ultrafine particles can even reach the brain or fetal organs. “– From Wikipedia with sources”

According to an article written by the US National Library of Medicine
National Institutes of Health,   “Estimation of the effects of heavy Asian dust on respiratory function by definition type” ,  showed a direct correlation between respiratory problems and fine dust, especially on days with heavy particulate readings.  As illustrated in  the report, “Socio-Economic Costs from Yellow Dust Damages in South Korea” by Dai-Yeun Jeong,  states that,  “……Socio-economic Cost Estimated by Contingent Valuation Method. Kang et al. (2004) estimated the socio-economic cost assuming that yellow dust occurs an average 14 days per year. They first estimated the socio-economic cost per person, and multiplied this for the whole population and total cost. As is shown in Table 3, the cost was estimated as US$29.51 per person a
year. Multiplied by total number of people in Korea an estimated cost of US$ 44.123 million results. The total socio-economic cost is then estimated as US$ 5,921.639 million when a discount rate of 7.5% is applied.” 

Not only does the Asian dust epidemic affect the economy and the health of Korean citizens, but also on the marine life in the oceans surrounding the Korean peninsula. According to a study published by Sciencedaily.com — ” East Asian dust deposition impacts on marine biological productivity” December 6, 2016–” —  the article states, “…Results showed that dust containing iron was the most important factor affecting phytoplankton growth and the deposition of iron via severe dust storms satisfied the increase in demand required for phytoplankton growth (115-291%), followed by nitrogen (it accounted for up to 1.7-4.0%), and phosphorus was the smallest one (it accounted for up to 0.2-0.5%).”

Now that we have a basic understanding and what factors are causing this natural disaster, compounded by man-made waste, we must now ask ourselves, “What can be done about it?”

 

Solutions:  

In January of 2019, President Moon Jae-in, announced, South Korea will produce 6.2 million units of fuel cell electric vehicles and build 1,200 refilling stations across the country by 2040 as an effort to create more sustainable energy and less pollution in the nation.  According to the article, “Seoul’s Answer to a Pollution Crisis: Free Public Transit” by Linda Poon, Alongside this push as part of an emergency plan announced last year by Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon, the city will make public transit free during rush hours on days when the air quality index reaches above 50 and is expected to stay there for at least a day. To fund the measure, Park set aside 24.9 billion won (about $23 million USD) in December, stating that the air quality had turned into a natural disaster which warranted access to use emergency disaster relief revenue.

Last month, Thailand began deploying manned drones to spraying water into the air in an effort to clear the debris. The degree of success from these results are unknown, but I assume them to be of little value considering  no public reports being issued stating any major improvements.  Thai authorities announced on Jan.24, 2019, that they have arrested the operator of a website that may have  falsely claimed that a woman had died as a result of a small “PM 2.5” particulate matter that experts say is one of the most dangerous constituents of air pollution because it can penetrate deep into the lungs.

Chinese industrialization is often cited as a reason for increased fine dust occurrences.  Tradingeconomics.com– National Bureau of Statistics China – Show massive amount of increased industrialization from 1990-2015, where production began to level out. China’s population of 1.4 billion people is also of significance.  China’s firework displays during the Lantern Festival and stagnant air over the Korean peninsula are the main culprits for the dangerously high levels of ultra-fine dust pollution in South Korea at the end of February, a Seoul City-run environment agency said on Wednesday (March 6). -“High density of ultra-fine dust continued recently because the weather condition caused air over the Korean peninsula to be stagnant and delayed diffusion of pollutants stemming within the country and from abroad,” said Mr Shin Yong-seung of the Research Institute of Public Health and Environment.” -The agency traced the chemical elements travelling from China to South Korea on two occasions – from Feb 17 to Feb 23 and from Feb 27 to Tuesday. (Source: Korea Herald)

In order to combat this issue, we must use a combination of natural, political, and technological means.

  1. Plant based city-wide filtration via a “Green initiative” with a new city planning development project which will envelop the city rooftops and intersections with certain plants known to filter toxins in the air.
  2. Switch Korean vehicles from combustion based to election based by the year 2040.
  3.  Pass regulations requiring manufacturers to install and maintain all filtration, boilers, and equipment in their facilities in order to reduce emissions.
  4.  Hold an east Asian convention compelling afflicted nations to take measures in combating Asian dust.  Mongolia, China, Russia, South/North Korea.

 

In phase #1, I am inspired by the NASA clean air study regarding plant life.  The Clean Air study found that English Ivy,  The Snake Plant,  the Peace Lily, and several other plants are very effective at removing benzene, formaldehyde, and trichloroethylene, xylene, and ammonia from the air—chemicals that have been linked to health effects like headaches and eye irritation. Urban areas like Seoul, and Gangnam, are full of empty rooftops which could be fitted with these plants. Sidewalks, highways, and intersections could also be equipped with plant life to filter out these toxins. The study found that a single tree could potentially filter out a 100 sq ft radius.  These plants collect the dust, filter the air, and hold onto the dust, only to be washed away by a rainy day at a later time. The effects will be subtle at first, but can be dramatic as the project grows. Koreans will certainly feel the difference even by fixing these plants into their living-rooms at home.

President Moon and other leaders could potentially create a huge public works project, employing citizens to plant and maintain this project which would also create thousands of jobs of unemployed or semi-retired Koreans. Since this is an international issue, funds could be gathered via taxation, international relief funds, and by a global public announcement campaign championing for voluntary donations.

In phase#2, President Moon has already done a fantastic job in pushing for an alternative to combustion vehicles. By 2040, if Korea sees a switch from combustion to electric, particulate levels are certain to decrease by a large degree. With the rise of the Tesla corporation in the west, the practicality and popularity of this idea is growing rapidly.

In phase #3, inspectors must hold corporations to a higher standard in both China and Korea. Boiler-makers and other filtration systems that are not properly maintained have been shown to increase air pollution and reduce productivity of equipment. By not properly maintaining these facilities or by failing to upgrade outdated technologies, companies suffer economically due to equipment stagnation, and the people of China and Korea suffer environmentally and biologically.

In phase #4, we have to build a coalition that includes China, Russia, Mongolia, and both North and South Korea.  By agreeing to mutual regulations, combining incomes and efforts of scientists, political sanctions and talks of aggression can be mitigated by a mutual desire to have clean air for their respective citizen to enjoy.  Cross-contamination caused by neighboring countries must be addressed in a friendly dialogue in order to establish a sense of brotherhood.

This report is simplistic and indirect, but points us in the right direction. Collaborative and creative methods are a winning combination that are sure to yield results. If President Moon Jae-in, Chairman Kim Jong-Un, Prime Minister Ukhnaagiin Khürelsükh of Mongolia, President Vladamir Putin, and President Xi Jinping, are willing to organize a coalition, Nalini-Global will volunteer it’s research efforts towards this project.

 

Sincerely,

Randell D Stroud,

Human rights specialist/Paralegal

Nalini-Global

CC:

Division of Environmental Law and Conventions
P.O Box 30552, 00100
Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: +254 20 7624011
Fax: +254 20 7624300
E-mail Address: delc@unep.org

Ministry of Environment South Korea:

Government Complex-Sejong, 11, Doum 6-Ro, Sejong-si, 30103, Republic of Korea: E-mail address: mepr@korea.kr