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(2nd LD) Fine dust blankets much of South Korea

All News 22:45 November 20, 2021

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with latest data in paras 2-4)

SEOUL, Nov. 20 (Yonhap) -- A choking pall of fine dust plagued much of South Korea on Saturday, prompting authorities to impose emergency reduction measures for the greater Seoul area and other regions the next morning.

As of 10 p.m., the density of ultrafine dust, called PM 2.5, hit the "very bad" level for Seoul, Incheon, Gyeonggi Province, Sejong, North Chungcheong Province, North Jeolla Province and Gwangju, according to data from the state-run Korea Environment Corp.

Other parts of the country registered "bad."

The southern island of Jeju is shrouded in fine dust on Nov. 20, 2021. (Yonhap)

The level of fine dust, called PM 10, remained "bad" for Seoul, Gyeonggi Province, Incheon, the central regions, Daejeon, Daegu, Gwangju and North Jeolla Province, while the reading elsewhere was "average."

PM 2.5 and PM 10 refer to particulate matters smaller than 2.5 micrometers and 10 micrometers in diameter, respectively.

The nation measures fine dust air pollution in a four-tier system -- "good," "average," "bad" and "very bad."

The high concentration is attributable to the combination of micro particles from China, which began to blow in Thursday night, and domestic air pollutants accumulated due to stagnant air, the state-run National Institute of Environmental Research said.

Later in the day, the environment ministry said that it would issue a ultrafine dust alert of "attention" -- the lowest in the four-tier system -- for Seoul, Incheon, Gyeonggi Province, and South and North Chungcheong Provinces from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday.

Under the alert, a set of emergency measures to reduce fine dust are to be put in place. It marks the first issuance of emergency reduction measures in the latter half of this year.

The reduction measures include a reduction in the operations of coal power plants. They will be applied to public organizations and construction sites in the regions under the alert.

A road in Incheon, west of Seoul, is shrouded in fine dust on Nov. 20, 2021. (Yonhap)

On late Friday, fine dust and ultrafine dust advisories were issued for Seoul and Gyeonggi for the first time in about six months.

Other affected parts of the country were also put under fine dust advisories Saturday.

An ultrafine dust advisory is issued when the concentration of PM 2.5 exceeds 75 micrograms per cubic meter for two hours. A fine dust advisory is issued when the concentration of PM 10 stays above 150 micrograms per cubic meter for two hours.

Micro-dust air pollution is expected to remain high for central, northeastern and southwestern regions through Sunday afternoon, the institute said, before it begins to ease with rain and strong winds expected Sunday night.

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