We should be pay­ing at­ten­tion to par­ti­cle pol­lu­tion fore­casts

The China Post - - COMMENTARY -

In ad­di­tion to the lows and highs as well as chances of pre­cip­i­ta­tion, we ought to be pay­ing at­ten­tion to par­ti­cle pol­lu­tion fore­casts as we pre­pare for the day. Not do­ing so could shorten your life.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent study, air pol­lu­tion, in­clud­ing par­ti­cle pol­lu­tion, is caus­ing pre­ma­ture death in one out of six peo­ple among those 30 years and older living in Seoul and Gyeonggi Prov­ince.

In 2010, 15,346 deaths among those 30 years and older were caused by par­ti­cle pol­lu­tion, the study said. That is equiv­a­lent to 15.9 per­cent of deaths for that age group and area.

If we thought par­ti­cle pol­lu­tion to be a “mere” health risk, the study casts the dan­gers par­ti­cle pol­lu­tion poses in a whole new light.

Coarse par­ti­cles re­fer to par­tic­u­late mat­ters be­tween 2.5 and 10 mi­crom­e­ters in di­am­e­ter. Par­ti­cles mea­sur­ing 2.5 mi­crom­e­ters or less in di­am­e­ter are called fine par­ti­cles. By com­par­i­son, an av­er­age hair strand mea­sures 70 mi­crom­e­ters in di­am­e­ter.

Par­ti­cle pol­lu­tion is a known health risk. It is known to in­crease the risks of death from car­dio­vascu- lar dis­ease, my­ocar­dial in­farc­tion, stroke and re­s­pi­ra­tory ill­nesses.

In­deed, the study con­firmed the risks. Ad­di­tion­ally, par­ti­cle pol­lu­tion was shown to have caused 1,403 cases of lung can­cer. The lat­est re­search should be a wakeup call to take ac­tion on both the in­di­vid­ual and gov­ern­ment lev­els.

On the in­di­vid­ual level, wear­ing spe­cially cer­ti­fied masks can lessen the harm­ful ef­fects of coarse and fine par­ti­cles.

Re­frain­ing from go­ing out­side when par­ti­cle pol­lu­tion warn­ings are in ef­fect is an­other way to pro­tect one­self.

How­ever, th­ese are not fun­da­men­tal so­lu­tions to the prob­lem of wors­en­ing par­ti­cle pol­lu­tion.

While the gov­ern­ment should con­tinue press­ing China to take more strin­gent ac­tions against pol­lu­tion — much of the coarse and fine par­ti­cles that pol­lute the at­mos­phere over the Korean Penin­sula hail from China, car­ry­ing with them many toxic and car­cino­genic sub­stances — it should also en­force stronger anti- pol­lu­tion mea­sures of its own. This is an ed­i­to­rial pub­lished on The Korea Her­ald on April 23.

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