Korea has the worst air quality of any advanced country, with its fine dust level soaring over the past 17 years, according to an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report released Sunday.
The report shows Korea had the worst level 12 times over the period with a fine dust level of 32 micrograms per cubic meter in 2015, compared with a 13.7 micrograms average for the OECD countries.
The fine dust exposure level refers to ultrafine particles or particle matter in one cubic meter of air.
Poland was second worst, with 23.4 micrometers, which is 8.6 micrometers lower than Korea.
At the other end of the scale, Iceland and Norway recorded 2.9 and 4.4 micrometers respectively as clean countries, the report said. The countries recorded low level of ultrafine particles, reflecting a significantly high level of reliance on renewable energy.
Iceland is 88.5 percent reliant on renewable energy and Norway is 44.6 percent. Korea figure is just 1.5 percent.
President Moon Jae-in pledged in August to expand the development and use of clean energy technologies, replacing aging coal and nuclear power plants by 2030.
The ministry will no longer give licenses to build or operate coal plants.