We should be paying attention to particle pollution forecasts
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.