Nowadays, Korean people have been suffering more from fine dust than other countries in Asia. Korea and China, especially, have been experiencing severe air pollution problems. It has been a significant issue in Korea, and people have demanded the government to take some measures to reduce the damage from fine dust pollution and search for the origin of it. We need to understand what fine dust is, the reason it is one of the crucial problems in our society, and how to deal with it effectively.
First of all, fine dust refers to PM 10 (particles less than 10 micrometers). The smaller fine dust is called ultra-fine dust, and it is known as PM 2.5 as they are smaller than 2.5 μm in aerodynamic diameter. Fine dust is made by applying a variety of contaminants to the dust, composed of ionic constituents, such as nitrates, ammonium and sulfate, metallic compounds, and carbon compounds. It is an artificial pollutant emitted when coal or oil is burned in cars, factories, and homes. Therefore, you have to know that fine dust contains very harmful chemicals for your body, and you should pay attention to the fine dust level, like AQI (Air Quality Index), every morning.
Most Korean people usually decide to wear masks after checking the amount of fine dust from websites and news in the morning. However, in Korea, the standard measurement of fine dust is twice as high than the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends. So, even if it is a normal condition of fine dust on Korean portal sites, it does not mean that you can go outside without wearing a mask. It will be safe to consult the measurements from the WHO or download apps that provide reliable information about fine dust. People have been very sensitive to fine dust because it can harm our health in numerous ways. People who have weak bronchial tubes can get serious problems from it. It can affect nasal, ocular, and oral health. Fine dust particles can cause eyes to become dry and dusty. In particular, when eyes are heavily covered with fine dust, it is advisable to refrain from wearing contact lenses. Some people suggest that although fine dust is not good for the skin, it can be washed away. The particles of general dust are so large that they can be removed with soap and water, but experiments have shown that the particle size of fine dust is so small that it can penetrate into the skin through the follicles. More and more patients are visiting dermatologists because they feel itchy or sore from fine dust. Studies have shown that fine dust can also speed skin aging. Patients with heart disease and circulatory disease may also suffer from high blood pressure because of fine dust. The elderly, children, and pregnant women with particularly weak respiratory organs should make efforts to minimize damage caused by fine dust. On our campus, many students are totally exposed to fine dust, too. The best way to protect your body from fine dust is to stay indoors, but it is not possible for students going around for classes and studying. Then what should we do when the fine dust particles are serious enough to affect our health? The most important and typical way is to wear a face mask.
A regular rectangular mask available at a pharmacy or a convenience store has virtually no effect as it cannot filter out fine dust. We should wear a mask at or above KF80 to combat fine dust. KF is acronym for Korean Filter. KF80s are used for yellow dust masks that block more than 80 percent of fine particles, while KF94 and KF99 are suitable for small-particles, blocking more than 95 and 99 percent particles respectively. According to Samsung Hospital in Seoul, there are also a few other precautions to help keep you safe, in addition to wearing a mask. First, washing your hands and face after going out is a good practice. It is necessary to wash your body carefully as soon as you return home because clothes do not completely protect you from the dust. It is also important to drink water regularly to filter out the fine dust in the respiratory tract. Other activities can protect you from fine dust, including wearing a hat and glasses, not opening windows indoors, and eating seaweed, vegetables, and fruit. Fine dust is very harmful to the human body and it is difficult to block completely in our normal life. However, at least, we can avoid huge damage from fine dust by figuring out accurate methods to protect ourselves, finding the reasons for it, and trying to promote awareness of its risks. A small amount of interest and action from all people who live in Korea could lead to a big positive result both for our health and our environment.