Korea Suffers Pollution from Siberian Forest Fires

Brush fires in Siberia are bringing a haze of ultrafine dust to Korea, according to a study.

Jung Jin-sang at the Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science said Tuesday ultrafine dust particles from forest fires in Siberia are traveling 3,000 km south to the Korean peninsula.

The particles measure less than 2.5㎍ in diameter and are too small to be filtered by the human nose and cilia in the lungs, causing lung and heart diseases.

Researchers discovered that ultrafine dust levels in the Daejeon area worsened to 51-100㎍ per cubic meter after the forest fires in Siberia in July 2014.

Analysis of satellite photos showed a high-pressure front west of the forest fires and a low-pressure front to the east causing the air currents to travel south. Analysis of ultrafine dust particles in Daejeon showed a four to five times larger amount of substances that occur when vegetation is burned.

Jung said, “Moscow often sees ultrafine dust levels rise due to Siberian forest fires, and the results of our study were identical to research done there.”

The findings were published in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics.

Jung said the focus of attention so far has been on ultrafine dust from China. “But from now on we need to conduct a wide range of studies covering northern China, Russia and North Korea as well,” he added.

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