January 14, 2019 12:56
Authorities issued their first fine dust pollution alert of the year in Seoul on Sunday and ordered factories to curb operations and banned aging diesel cars from the roads.
The Environment Ministry said ultrafine dust (PM2.5) levels reached 75 ㎍/㎥ in Seoul, 70 ㎍/㎥ in Incheon and 81 ㎍/㎥ in Gyeonggi Province by 4 p.m. on Sunday and are expected to surpass 50 ㎍/㎥ on Monday.
The measures also went into effect in other major cities including Busan, Dajeon and Gwangju.
That means use of government vehicles is restricted and aging diesel cars must stay in the garage. In Seoul, all city government vehicles are grounded and officials are not allowed to drive to work. The parking lots of 434 city-run organizations will be closed temporarily.
Violators of the ban will be fined W100,000 (US$1=W1,116).
Chang Im-seok at the National Institute of Environmental Research said, "Usually fine dust density starts to get worse in January and peak in March when sandstorms blow in" from China and Mongolia.
The smog gets worse with unusually warm weather. When emergency measures were announced on Jan. 15 last year, the morning temperature was 3.9 degrees Celsius in Seoul, 9.8 degrees above average.
Ban Ki-sung at meteorological information provider Kweather said, "If temperatures are warm in winter, we can be almost 100 percent sure they come with high levels of fine dust."
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