A man wakes up in the morning and he opens the window to let in some fresh air. However, despite the forecast of a clear morning, the Namsan Tower right in front of him looks very blurry. His white clothes become brown from the dust and he has a cough within an hour of leaving his house. He looks around in a strange mood but there is no one wearing a mask, they are just coughing…
Although it is an imaginary story from my imagination, it is not really strange. It actually seems like it will be like my dream in a short period of time. The fine dust concentration is at the‘bad’ level in Seoul today. However, there is no news report about fine dust, and no one is wearing a mask. Fine dust is undervalued not only by the government but also by the public, compared to its seriousness. I would like to shed a new light on its dangers.
1. Fine dust, let's fight after we know it!
What is fine dust? It is a very small substance that is invisible to us. It refers to particulate matter with a diameter of 10 μm or less, that floats or flies in the atmosphere for a long time. Also, it comes from the burning of fossil fuels or from the emissions of manufacturing and automobile exhaust. It is an air pollutant that causes various lung diseases. The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified BC (black carbon) from diesel, which is a kind of fine dust, as a class one carcinogen.
Yellow dust is also known to cause the air to look cloudy and affect the respiratory system. However, fine dust is caused by anthropogenic pollutants emitted by the burning of fossil fuels, while dust is a natural phenomenon where dust, which has climbed to upper atmospheric levels due to strong winds. Fine dust occurs because of anthropogenic pollutants emitted by the use of fossil fuels, while yellow dust is a natural phenomenon of dust that has been forced into the upperatmosphere by strong wind.
Fine dust forecast grades are divided into good(0~30㎛/㎥), normal(31~80㎛/㎥), bad(81~150㎛/㎥), and very bad(151㎛/㎥~), and the recommended behavior is dependent on each grade.
2. Attack which was started by fine dust from China
Even though fine dust is caused by the use of fossil fuels, most Korean people think that this is due to China. This is not wrong as the Korean government recently commented that fine dust from China has mades up about 80% of the domestic fine dust concentration in the past. Smog that often occurs during the winter, increases with the use of coal fuels, and the concentration of fine dust in Korea is increasing because it flew to Korea. But China denies this fact. They say the smog in Seoul is due to the high population density of Seoul, and high numbers of diesel cars and dust.Also, they say it has nothing to do with China. However, it is an undeniable fact that air pollutants from China fill Korean atmosphere every year when west or southwest winds are blowing for more than one day.
So, some people argue thatwe have to make a claim against China. But in reality, it is very difficult to win such an argument. The reason is that, while European nations have agreements protecting each nation from the spread of cross-border pollutants, there is no binding regulation in Northeast Asia.
3. Invisible killers
So why should we be careful about invisible fine dust?
The risk of fine dust is more serious than we think. With only limited exposure to fine dust, irritation of the airways can occur causing coughing and breathing-difficulty, asthma worsens, and arrhythmia occurs. With chronic exposure to fine dust, lung function decreases and chronic bronchitis increases, and mortality can also increase. Children exposed to fine dust have their lung function adversely affected even when they become adults. Also, it has been reported that there is a relationship between women of childbearing age exposed to fine dust and low birth weight babies.
Without exaggeration, fine dust is like a scary hidden murder weapon or an invisible killer. For example, if you are outdoors for more than an hour when the fine dust concentration is at its ‘dangerous’ level, it is like breathing cigarette smoke for an hour in a room that's eight square meters.
4. The Armchair Government vs. The Indifferent People
The government finally made a comment on the matter as the concentration about fine dust increased daily. They said, “Ventilate the kitchen when you cook because the cause of fine dust is grilled mackerel.” The government said that grilled mackerel is a root cause of the problem because fine dust generatedfrom cooking grilled mackerel can be ten times the ‘very bad’ level.In addition, the government insisted that diesel vehicles are also the root cause of fine dust, so the price of diesel fuel should be raised to rein in demand.It is a real extravagantargument. That means the danger offine dustoutside is serious enough to restrict us from going outside while home cooking is also dangerous – and they solve the problem by setting up regulations rather than looking for a fundamental solution. There is not much to say, other than that it is a purely academic.
The people are no different. Onlya few people wear masks when fine dust is in all the forecasts on the main Internet portal news sites. The majority of the people have a deadly disease called safety insensitivity.
The government needs to come up with some fundamental counter-measures through technological development like air purifiers, rather than solving them only through regulations. Also, people need to wake up from their indifference, be aggressive citizens, and be consciousof their own responsibility totake care of their own safety.
5. Flee from fine dust!
So how can we prevent damage caused by fine dust?
First of all, the most important thing is avoiding outings when fine dust is present. However, if you need to get outsidedue to unavoidable circumstances, you should wear a special mask with a high blockage level for fine dust. It is too common mentioned but it is necessary to emphasize the point because people do not practice it. Second, you should drink water often. It is good to drink more than eight glasses of water a day because fine dust that enters into the respiratory system can cause a hoarse voice and inflammation of the throat. Third, you have to dust off your clotheswhen you returnhome after going out. You need to pay attention to it, as fine dust on clothes can lead to indoor air pollution.
These simple living habits can effectively defend against fine dust’s attack. Let's make the prevention methods come alive.
Korea is ranked 171 out of 178 countries in the Environmental Performance Index released by the World Economic Forum this year. At this rate, a world that buys air might become true very soon. In fact, there has not been a day when the average daily dust concentration in Seoul fell below the WHO standard during all of last April. If you have a sore throat or a cough after going out, you are likely to have already been attacked by fine dust. It is not too late, let’s win this dusty war by preparing thoroughly in advance.< Copyright © The Gachon Herald All rights reserved >