Ministries to spend billions to reduce fine dust

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Ministries to spend billions to reduce fine dust

Three ministries are joining forces and will spend a combined 300 billion won ($257.5 million) from 2017 through 2023 to develop scientific and technical measures to tackle the ever-serious fine dust problem.

The Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, the Ministry of Health and Welfare, and the Ministry of Environment announced on Saturday they would launch a singular research and development center that will identify the causes of fine dust, analyze harmful components and develop technologies to reduce creation of the dust.

The joint efforts come five months after the government unveiled “special measures to control fine dust,” which include getting old vehicles that emit toxic particulates off of the road and ending the construction of coal-reliant thermal power plants.

“We are seeking to come up with fundamental solutions in science and technology to the fine dust problem and will improve related regulations,” said Hong Nam-ki, first vice minister of science, ICT and future planning.

For three years starting in 2017, the ministry will devote 42.3 billion won to finding the cause and defining the origins of different types of dust by dividing Korea into five different regions. In the longer term, the government aims to improve the precision in measuring and predicting fine dust from the current 62 percent to as much as 75 percent by 2020. Later, the forecast system will mobilize vehicles and drones as well as bid data and artificial intelligence.

Currently, Korea’s meteorological agency can only provide a two-day forecast for fine dust.

Even though fine dust increasingly affects the daily lives of Koreans, the country is devoid of a proper method to accurately measure the new weather phenomenon.

Some blame China’s heavy manufacturing and emissions from massive cars and the Environment Ministry was battered in May after citing grilling mackerel and pork belly at households nationwide as one of key culprits behind the fine dust emission. A day later, the ministry withdrew its argument after harsh outcry.

The three ministries will also work together to develop technologies that help reduce generation of fine dust at large constructions site, manufacturing facilities and from public transportation.

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