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  • Clearest Skies in 2021 with Lowest PM2.5 Levels Since Start of Measurements

  • Environment & Energy news SMG 120
    The Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) has been measuring the Seoul metropolitan area’s particulate matter (PM) levels to monitor the air quality, and reported that the air quality recorded last year was observed to be the cleanest since its start of PM measurements with an average annual PM2.5 levels at 19.8 μg/m3, which is the lowest ever measured. The number of days that showed “Good” (roughly 15 μg/m3) PM levels set a new record high at 172 days, and “Bad” PM levels or worse a historic low at 35 days.

    The SMG analyzes the reasons for the decrease of PM2.5 levels to be the combined effects of domestic and international efforts in emission reduction, meteorological factors, and reduced economic activity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Especially, it is seen that the various air quality improvement policies actively carried out by the SMG since 2003 is showing its effects. The SMG completed the replacement of all buses from fuel to CNG in 2014 through the air quality improvement project for the transportation sector since 2003 and supported low-pollution measures for about 500,000 old diesel vehicles until 2021. Also, the SMG has been conducting an eco-friendly boiler distribution project since 2015 to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by supplying 220,000 eco-friendly boilers with 88% less nitrogen oxide emissions compared to normal boilers, which was later made mandatory with the revision of the Special Act on the Improvement of Air Control in Air Control Zones in April 2021. Furthermore, the SMG is continuously promoting various reduction measures, such as supplying electric vehicles, restricting the total amount of air polluting substances by businesses, and supporting the installation of pollution prevention equipment.

    Moreover, meteorological conditions in the latter half of the year experienced a high influx of easterly currents along with air quality improvements in northeastern China is seen to be another reason for the lower PM2.5 levels. The SMG is planning to continue its existing air quality improvement policies in various sectors, such as vehicles, heating, generation and seasonal management, so more citizens can enjoy clearer skies.

    Currently, the SMG is pursuing its seasonal PM management with strengthened reduction measures for each sector over the course of four months from December 2021 to March 2022 when the atmospheric air quality is at its worst. Especially, an IoT-based remote surveillance system will be in operation around the clock, focusing on large-scale emission sources to strengthen the management of emission sources.