Developing an adaptive pathway to mitigate air pollution risk for vulnerable groups in South Korea

Sugyeong Park, Sea Jin Kim, Hangnan Yu, Chul Hee Lim, Eunbeen Park, Jiwon Kim, Woo Kyun Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Air pollution is one of the most significant environmental hazards. The elderly, young, and poor are more vulnerable to air pollution. The risk of air pollution was assessed based on the risk framework published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in terms of three aspects: hazard, exposure, and vulnerability. This study determined the concentrations of hazardous pollutants using satellite images from 2015 at 1 km2 spatial resolution. In addition, the study identified vulnerable groups who are exposed to hazardous air pollutants. The study highlighted the degree of vulnerability based on environmental sensitivity and institutional abilities, such as mitigation and social adaption policies, using statistical data. Based on the results, Seoul City and Gyeonggi Province have low air pollution risk owing to good institutional abilities, while the western coastal area has the highest air pollution risk. Three adaption pathway scenarios were assessed in terms of the effect of increases in the budget for social adaptation policies on the level of risk. The study found that the risk can be reduced when the social adaptation budget of 2015 base level is increased by 20% in Gyeonggi Province and by 30% in the western coastal area. In conclusion, this risk assessment can support policy-making to target more vulnerable groups based on scientific evidence and to ensure environmental justice at the national level.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1790
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Mar 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF), grant funded by the Korean government (MSIT) (No. 2018R1A2B6005682), and carried out with the support of ´R&D Program for Forest Science Technology (Project No. 2018110C10-2020-BB01)’ provided by Korea Forest Service (Korea Forestry Promotion Institute) and the Environmental GIS/RS Center of Korea University. We would like to acknowledge the cooperation of this work for United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) (No. 2017-0014).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Adaptive pathway
  • Air pollution
  • Disaster risk reduction
  • Spatial analysis
  • Sustainable development goals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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