The research team at the Center for Gas Analysis under the Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science (KRISS) has secured grounds for the inflow of Chinese-born ultrafine particles into South Korea and its research result will be published in the journal Atmospheric Environment in April.
Ultrafine particles are usually emitted when burning fossil fuels and biomass fuels such as firewood. It was difficult, however, to find evidence that the ultrafine particles were from China as such particles found in China and those found in South Korea were similar in their components. China also took a stance that scientific evidence is necessary to prove that the ultrafine particles in South Korea were from China.
The Korean research team has focused on the fact that a considerable amount of ultrafine particles is generated during the Chinese New year as a result of fireworks. During the Chinese New Year, the concentration of ultrafine particles on the Korean Peninsula appeared to be generally “bad,” with 51∼100μg (1μg is one-millionth of a gram) per m³.
As such, the research team has developed a system to gauge two types of concentration – potassium and laevoglucose – among components of ultrafine particles. While potassium is emitted when burning both fireworks and biomass, laevoglucose is only emitted when burning biomass. As a result of observation, potassium concentration skyrocketed by more than seven times during the Chinese New Year period whereas laevoglucose concentration did not change. In other words, the research result has proved that Chinese-born ultrafine particles flow into South Korea.
The Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources investigated and revealed that 87 percent of heavy metals in yellow dust in South Korea was from China in 2016 but the latest research result is the first time to secure basis of ultrafine particles inflow from China.