Government funds mandatory air purifiers at schools


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The South Korean government on Tuesday passed a revised school health act to improve quality of air and safety at preschools and primary and secondary schools. The revised law was one of five fine dust-related legislations that passed the same day.

The revised law requires the installation of air-cleaning systems and air quality sensors in classrooms and allows the use of state funds to cover the costs. School councils and parents of students are also permitted to attend classroom air quality monitoring sessions, which will be conducted each semester.

President Moon Jae-in (center) poses for a photo with elementary schoolchildren holding signs that together read “clean air without fine dust.” (Yonhap)

Data from the Ministry of Education this month showed 41 percent of all preschool to high school classrooms — or 114,265 classrooms — without air purifiers. While 97 percent of preschool, 75 percent of elementary school and 73.9 percent of special education school classrooms had air purifiers, only 25.7 percent and 26.3 percent of middle school and high school classrooms, respectively, had them.

An Education Ministry official told The Korea Herald that the ministry aims to have air-cleaning equipment installed in all classrooms in preschools, elementary schools and special education schools by the first half of this year, and at all middle and high school classrooms by the end of the year.

“Classrooms, where students spend the most time (at school), take priority in the (installation) process, but the plan may expand to cover other school facilities such as gyms,” he said.

Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Yoo Eun-hye unveiled a plan on March 12 to cooperate with the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy and other related ministries to develop an air purifier optimized for schools. Earlier this month, the National Assembly passed a revision to disaster and safety management laws to designate fine dust pollution a social disaster. The designation gives authorities access to emergency funds for extraordinary measures when particulate matter pollution is bad.

By Kim Arin (arin@heraldcorp.com)


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