Seoul to ban old diesel vehicles on fine dust days

Starting next month, drivers of old, diesel-powered vehicles driven between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. in Seoul amid fine-dust alerts will be fined 100,000 won ($89), the city government said, Tuesday.

Over 2.2 million vehicles registered before Dec. 31, 2005 will be immediately subject to the ban from June 1. Those equipped with exhaust-reducing air treatment systems will be exempt from the ban. A nine-month grace period will be allowed to drivers of vehicles registered in non-Seoul regions and old cargo trucks that weigh below 2.5 tons as well as drivers with disabilities, giving them time to get equipped with the anti-pollution system.

The alert is issued if three conditions are met: if average daily levels of Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5, a fine particulate matter which is 2.5 micrometers or smaller in diameter, are above 50 microns per cubic meter of air between midnight and 4 p.m.; if the level is expected to remain above 100 microns per cubic meter the following day for more than three hours; and if a fine dust alert is issued in one of nine designated areas in Seoul, Incheon and Gyeonggi Province as of 5 p.m.

Up to 9.28 million won in financial support will be given to install the air treatment systems, the city government said, to owners of vehicles over 2.5 tons registered before Dec. 31, 2005. The city will give up to 7.7 million won to owners of trucks lighter than 2.5 tons, on which such installation is not feasible, who have no choice but to give them up.

The measure is among a slew of efforts to reduce air-pollution including an odd-even vehicle use ban subject only to civil servants, under which vehicles with odd-number plates must not be driven on even-numbered dates and vice-versa. Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon, who is seeking a third term in the upcoming June 13 local election, said he would push harder to revise the law to make the odd-even vehicle ban mandatory when the PM 2.5 concentration average is over 50 micrometers for more than two days. Currently, the city can only issue non-binding recommendations with no penalty for people who fail to follow them.

The move comes amid heightened public concern about potential health risks posed by inhaling fine particulate matter known to cause respiratory ailments and weaken the body’s immune system, among other health risks. Fine dust refers to particles that are smaller than 10 micrometers and are not caught in the mucous membranes of the nose, but penetrate into the lungs. If a particle is smaller than 2.5 micrometers it is called ultrafine dust. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer under the World Health Organization (WHO), small particulate matter is classified as carcinogenic to humans. Vehicle emissions are one of the main sources of fine dust that produces PM 2.5.

via Seoul to ban old diesel vehicles on fine dust days

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