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As the cold wave subsides, fine dust once again becomes a pressing issue, largely attributed to smog originating from China. In the metropolitan area, including Seoul, as well as in Chungbuk, Daegu, and Gwangju regions, the concentration of ultrafine dust has surged to approximately twice that of clear days. Examining the impact of fine dust on the human body, short-term exposure exacerbates symptoms such as asthma attacks, acute bronchitis, and arrhythmia. With prolonged exposure, the risk of cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases, and lung cancer increases. Since air directly affects the human body through the respiratory system, maintaining an appropriate atmospheric environment is crucial.

So, what constitutes a suitable atmospheric environment for a working environment? The Ministry of Environment has established indoor air quality management standards based on the user category. Facilities catering to sensitive groups, such as childcare centers, postnatal care centers, elderly care facilities, and medical institutions, have stricter standards with a PM10 level of 75 µg/m³ and PM2.5 level of 35 µg/m³ compared to general facilities. Here, PM10 refers to particulate matter with a diameter of approximately 10 micrometers (µm), commonly represented by meteorological agencies or the Ministry of Environment. PM2.5, with a diameter of 2.5 µm, is fine dust that reaches the deepest part of the lungs. Multipurpose facilities used by the general public, such as underground stations, underground malls, airport terminals, libraries, museums, and art galleries, have PM10 and PM2.5 standards of 100 µg/m³ and 50 µg/m³, respectively. In 2018, the Ministry of Environment reinforced standards not only for fine dust but also for nitrogen dioxide, formaldehyde, and radon, highlighting the severity of the health risks posed by these pollutants.

Typically, the concentration of chemical substances in office working environments is well below occupational exposure limits or recommended exposure limits. However, physical factors such as temperature, humidity, noise, vibration, as well as biological factors like exposure risks to bioaerosols such as bacteria, fungi, mold, and spores, can also have an impact. Additionally, building-related syndromes (SBS) and multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) may occur due to chemical exposure from office equipment, construction materials, and personal activities. To manage air purification systems, it's essential to regularly check air filters, examining whether dust has accumulated and if there is any change in color. If there's no dedicated safety professional managing office air quality, consulting HVAC system experts is advisable. HVAC components, including air filters, ducts, humidifiers, heating and cooling coils, and heat exchangers, play a crucial role in regulating indoor air. Regular cleaning and inspection are necessary to prevent odor and efficiency degradation. Effective HVAC system management not only contributes to energy cost savings but also plays a vital role in establishing a safe atmospheric environment. Therefore, for a secure and comfortable working environment, regular maintenance of HVAC systems and guidance from professionals are recommended.


- Kim, Minkyung. (2023, December 26). [Weather] Fine Dust Returns after Cold Wave...Deteriorated Smog from China. YTN.

- Korea Occupational Safety and Health Agency. (2017, October). Indoor Air Quality Management in Offices.

- Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency. Health Information>Health Hazard Information>Climate Change>Fine Dust>Health Effects of Fine Dust.

- Ministry of Environment. (2018, June 27). Indoor Air Quality Management, Aligned with the People's Standards.

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