Yay! We win! Seoul has the worst air quality amongst all cities in OECD countries. Yes, it’s worse than Rome, worse than Mexico city even.

Seoul’s air pollution is the worst among countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Environment Ministry said yesterday.
The capital’s particulate matter (PM), which can cause various respiratory problems, was measured at 71 micrograms per cubic meter at the end of 2001, the ministry said.
The figure is the highest among OECD countries, surpassing the 60 micrograms reported in Rome, Italy, and 53 micrograms for Mexico City – cities that are both notorious for severe urban air pollution.
Moscow recorded the lowest pollution level in terms of PM with 10 micrograms, with cities such as Paris and Auckland also significantly lower than Seoul with 24 and 25 micrograms, respectively.
The density of nitrogen dioxide in Seoul was 0.037 ppm (parts per million), ranking third after Moscow with 0.058 ppm and Bratislava, Slovakia, with 0.047 ppm. Excessive exposure to nitrogen dioxide can exacerbate pneumonia and bronchitis.

The prize? Well, let’s just say Korean can-do spirit extends to cancer, too. I sometimes wonder why I bothered to quit smoking three years ago (except for my occasional cocktail-time cigar). Now I can relax in the knowledge that any tumors that develop will be Someone Else’s Fault. Comforting, that.


Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. I don’t doubt it. When we were there this winter, my throat was sore almost the whole time.
    I’m not sure who’s a member of the OECD, but I’d be curious to see how it ranks against Cairo (another of the dirtiest cities I’ve lived in).

  2. I am not at all surprised. In my travels, the only city I have seen that can match Seoul for sheer unbreathability is Jakarta. You are probably better off breathing the air there through the filter on the end of a cigarette, if the truth be known.

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