Over the past several weeks, most of South Korea has been hit by heavy concentrations of ultrafine particles -- about six times higher than the safe level set by the World Health Organization.
And every time fine dust smothers the Korean Peninsula,… people tend to ask the core question, where has it all come from?
The Ministry of Environment saw the necessity of observing the air to draw scientific conclusions about the origin of the fine dust and the influence of air quality from the outside of the Korean Peninsula.
The National Institute of Environmental Research is using an airplane carrying nine sets of fine dust testing equipment. to observe particles over the waters between Korea and China.
While the state-run laboratory previously used a smaller plane for a limited observation of aerial pollutants,… the new mission was launched to establish a scientific basis for fine dust inflows from overseas through its first independently built medium-sized plane that can measure fine dust particles in real time.
"There's equipment with about one-hundred switches. By getting more people to operate the equipment directly onboard, we can get more reliable data than we used to."
The mission began on March 9th,. and the team will be taking 20 flights during their observations which run until the end of the month.
What is especially meaningful is that the institute plans to use the results in future negotiations with Beijing.
When asked about how can they differentiate the fine dust that comes from outside and inside of Korea,… they say flights along the West Sea shows them the difference.
"We've divided the area into three sectors to track the inflow of fine dust. The purpose is to calculate the influx through each sector. It means we can scientifically and accurately distinguish where the fine dust is coming from."
"The purpose of the aerial observations is not about pointing fingers at someone,… it's about finding the origin of the dust so that eventually joint work with China can help reduce dust levels in the region. Won Jung-hwan, Arirang News, Taean."