There is a correlation between long-term exposure to fine dust and cardiovascular diseases, such as high blood pressure, a study showed Monday, casting concerns among the public over the influx of pollutants from home and abroad.
The annual rise in fine dust emissions increases the number of people with high blood pressure, or hypertension, by 4.4 percent, according to the study conducted by a team of scientists at Seoul National University.
The study was conducted after analyzing data on more than 700,000 South Koreans between 2008 and 2010 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Fine dust -- particles smaller than 10 micrometers -- have been known to cause various respiratory diseases and undermine the body's immune system. This study was the first to be conducted to find the epidemiological association between the dust and cardiovascular diseases.
"Not only the people with respiratory diseases but also cardiovascular diseases should pay attention to fine dust alerts and refrain from going outside," said Kim Ho, director of the Graduate School of Public Health at SNU.
Kim raised the need to conduct further studies on which is more dangerous: fine dust particles that blow in from China or diesel cars.
The Seoul government has been making efforts to step up regional cooperation with neighboring countries to fight air pollution and to improve air quality. (Yonhap)