Rapid industrialisation and urbanization have benefited humanity and improved the quality of life. Air pollution is the greatest threat to society, yet industrialisation and urbanization both have adverse effects. Air pollution in and around cities is referred to as urban air pollution. Urban air pollution is worse in areas with denser inhabitants. Both the local climate and human health are impacted by air pollution. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that exposure to ambient (outside) air pollution causes 4.2 million deaths annually. Even while some urban air pollution comes from natural sources, most of the sources are artificial and heavily rely on human activity. Volcanic eruptions, thunder, earth surface dust, and naturally occurring particulate matter are examples of natural sources of urban air pollution. However, anthropogenic activities, such as transportation, home fossil fuel usage, industrialization, electricity generation, combustion, and agriculture and beauty goods, are the main causes of urban air pollution.

Urban pollution: South Korea - Sheet1
Urban Pollution_©www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/among-world-s-10-most-polluted-cities-3-are-from-india-check-full-list-here-101636766984042.html

Urban Air Pollution of South Korea

People and the ecosystem in South Korea are increasingly at risk from air pollution. Numerous domestic and foreign sources contribute to air pollution. Since South Korea’s fast industrialization, pollution levels have increased significantly, particularly in Seoul and other major cities. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) claims that Seoul is one of the cities in the world with the poorest air quality. The city’s mean PM10 levels between 2009 and 2013 were greater than those of many of the world’s biggest metropolises, including Los Angeles, Tokyo, Paris, and London. Additionally, it’s believed that in the Seoul Metropolitan Area in 2010, roughly 16 per cent of deaths were caused by poor air quality. Environmental and health issues are the result of this. Koreans purchase masks and air purifiers to breathe better air, attempting to lower the nation’s emissions.

Urban pollution: South Korea - Sheet2
Pollution Effect_©www.toppr.com/guides/essays/essay-on-environmental-pollution

Factors of Air Pollution in South Korea

Out of the 35 wealthiest nations in the world, South Korea’s air pollution has the lowest quality.

Following World War II, pollution in South Korea grew. Korea was still a developing nation in 1960, with a modest manufacturing industry and a reliance on international help. The Korean War only served to hasten South Korea’s society’s tremendous transition from an agrarian to an industrial economy. Under the aegis of the United Nations Korea Reconstruction Agency, the United States provided significant aid to South Korea in the wake of the war (UNKRA). During the 1980s and 1990s, South Korea’s economy, which was formerly a developing industrial country, increased by about 10% annually. As the 11th largest gross domestic producer in the world in 2015, South Korea is a manufacturing and export powerhouse today; The South Korean air pollution control industry saw a $1,139 million decrease between 2014 and 2016. However, the Korean Ministry of Environment has since controlled 32 other air chemicals classified as dangerous, in addition to 11 other air pollutants. By 2025, Korea intends to shut down 10 of its 61 operational coal-fired power facilities.

Due to its rapid development, South Korea has become a significant source of the nation’s air pollution, which includes emissions from diesel automobiles, construction machinery, heating, air conditioning systems, and power plants.

Urban pollution: South Korea - Sheet3
Pollution in the City of Korea_©www.trtworld.com/life/s-korea-steps-up-fight-against-pollution-says-problem-is-social-disaster-24893

Health Effects of Air Pollution in South Korea

The human body can suffer consequences from air pollution. Increasing PM2.5 air pollution has been associated with cancer, heart disease, pneumonia, and low birth weight. In the long run, air pollution can increase mortality rates. The risk of congenital anomalies of the circulatory, musculoskeletal, or genitourinary systems in children increases throughout the first and second trimesters of pregnancy. A link with Parkinson’s disease, cardiovascular disease, and other neurological conditions has been proposed by Korean experts. In South Korea, an increase in illnesses and fatalities has been related to pollution. Sulfur dioxide exposure, for instance, contributes to respiratory issues and chronic lung illness. Ozone and particulate matter exposure are linked to respiratory and cardiovascular conditions and higher mortality rates.

According to the government-funded Korea Environment Institute (KEI), the dust sickens 1.8 million Koreans and kills up to 165 of them yearly, usually the elderly or those with respiratory conditions. Estimates from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) project that in 2060, air pollution would be responsible for 1.069 premature deaths per 1 million South Koreans, making South Korea the only member of the OECD with more than 1,000 premature deaths per million predicted.

Urban pollution: South Korea - Sheet4
Environmental Problem due to Pollution_©www.worldatlas.com/articles/when-did-our-environmental-problems-begin.html

Conclusion: Dangers of Air Pollution in South Korea

Air pollution has diverse effects on different sexes, health habits, and socioeconomic levels. People who live in more densely populated cities with factories are more likely to experience the negative impacts of air pollution, much as people who reside in one of the seven principal cities. The deteriorating air quality in South Korea affects several outdoor activities. Pollution is a significant threat to South Korea and becoming challenging there. It cannot be reduced by only government policies but by the active participation of each citizen of South Korea. Each country in the world can also look at the situation of South Korea and must prepare itself to face this problem.

Reference list:

Anon, (n.d.). Urban Air Pollution: Sources and Pollutants – Airqoon. [online] Available at: https://airqoon.com/resources/urban-air-pollution-sources-and-pollutants/ [Accessed 18 Nov. 2022].

Wikipedia. (2020). Air pollution in South Korea. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_pollution_in_South_Korea.

RTF | Rethinking The Future. (2022). Urban Pollution: South Korea. [online] Available at: https://www.re-thinkingthefuture.com/architectural-community/a7975-urban-pollution-south-korea/ [Accessed 18 Nov. 2022].

AQLI. (n.d.). South Korea Analysis: Air Pollution Cuts Lives Short by More Than A Year. [online] Available at: https://aqli.epic.uchicago.edu/news/south-korea-analysis-air-pollution-cuts-lives-short-by-more-than-a-year/.

UNEP. (2021). UNEP partners with local Korean governments to combat air pollution. [online] Available at: https://www.unep.org/news-and-stories/story/unep-partners-local-korean-governments-combat-air-pollution.

‌Image list

  • Urban Pollution. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/among-world-s-10-most-polluted-cities-3-are-from-india-check-full-list-here-101636766984042.html
  • Pollution Effect. https://www.toppr.com/guides/essays/essay-on-environmental-pollution
  • Pollution in the City of Korea.  https://www.trtworld.com/life/s-korea-steps-up-fight-against-pollution-says-problem-is-social-disaster-24893
  • Environmental Problem due to Pollution https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/when-did-our-environmental-problems-begin.html

Architect Mohd. Afzal Khan graduated in Architecture with Honors from Jamia Millia Islamia – New Delhi. He has been enthusiast to uncover in architecture research work with a boundless passion to know more about the same. He has been fascinated by the historic nature and interest to discover the same.