Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Ozone and Fine Dust Problem in Korea

The warnings about health seem to be increasing.  Water, air, food all the natural gifts have become tainted with pollutants known and unknown. A member of the Bishops' Committee on the environment writes in the Catholic Peace Weekly on the Ozone problem we face.

The past few days have been like a picture card with the beautiful blue sky and white clouds introducing us to a beautiful sunset. But the cell phone sent us a warning message: be careful about your health—the sun is hot and temperature high—drink plenty of water and avoid outdoor activities.

Ozone (O3) which occurs mainly from late spring to early autumn is harmful to health, along with fine dust and heat. How much do we know about ozone?

Naturally occurring ozone functions like a net that blocks the sun's ultraviolet rays so that life on Earth is possible. On the other hand, there is ozone that is a by-product of air pollution, and this ozone is harmful to the human body. Harmful ozone generated by industrialization is not produced directly by the combustion of fossil fuels. Nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds generated during combustion are generated by strong sunlight reacting with ultraviolet rays. The toxic concentration increases between late spring and early autumn.

Ozone is a substance that combines with air pollution and fine dust increasing the mortality rate. The concentration of ozone has been steadily increasing, and the ozone warning has also increased more than twice from 241 times in 2016 to 489 times in 2018.

The ozone warning is issued when the average ozone concentration is over a certain standard for 1 hour. If this condition persists for 3 ~ 4 hours, you will feel cough, eye irritation, and breathing symptoms. If it lasts for about 2 weeks, headache, shortness of breath, visual impairment, and respiratory disease are aggravated, resulting in asthma and chronic lung disease. Although ozone is known to affect only the lungs, one doctor has reported that ozone affects blood sugar, insulin, and insulin resistance and hurts diabetics.

Also, the inflammation caused by ozone affects not only the inflammation of various organs but also the neurotransmitter, which is also associated with the development of depression; the health effect is less than fine dust.

The problem is that ozone is not well known and only a few systematic studies on the origin, generation, inflow, and extermination have been made, and countermeasures are also insufficient.

The government considers ozone to be a serious problem along with fine dust, and the need to study it fully and prepare countermeasures. The standards for forecasting also need maintenance.

We need to know about ozone so we can call for measures and policies. We can reduce ozone generation when efforts are made to practice eco-life and reduce the production of fine dust.

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