Future air quality and premature mortality in Korea

Yujin J. Oak, Rokjin J. Park, Jong Tae Lee, Garam Byun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


We simulate air quality in Korea for the present, the near-term, and the long-term future conditions under the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSP1: most sustainable pathway with strong emissions control, SSP3: most challenging pathway with mild emissions control) using a chemical transport model. Simulated future concentrations of NO2, SO2, and fine particulate matter (PM2.5), show, in general, lower values compared to the present with varying degrees depending on SSP scenarios. Significant reductions in precursor emissions result in a decrease in O3 concentrations under a NOx-limited environment in the long-term future under SSP1. Under SSP3, O3 increases in the future under a VOC-limited regime, driven by increased CH4 levels and biogenic VOC emissions under the warming climate. Concentrations of PM2.5 and its components, including sulfate, nitrate, ammonium, and organic aerosols (OA), generally decrease in the long-term future under both scenarios. However, the contribution of biogenic secondary OA (BSOA) to PM2.5 will increase in the future. Simulated results are used to estimate cardiorespiratory mortality changes with concentration-response factors from epidemiologic studies in Korea based on national health surveys and Korean cohorts, using projected population structures from the SSP database. The cardiorespiratory health burden of long-term exposure to O3, NO2, SO2, and PM2.5 is estimated to be 10,419 (95 % confidence interval: 1271–17,142), 8630 (0–18,713), 3958 (0–9272), and 10,431 (1411–20,643) deaths in 2019. We find that the total cardiorespiratory excess mortality due to air pollutants under SSP1 decreases by 8 % and 95 % in 2045 and 2095, respectively. Under SSP3, excess mortality increases by 80 % in 2045, and decreases by 22 % in 2095, resulting in a substantial difference in the health outcomes depending on the emission scenario. We also find that the BSOA contribution to total PM2.5 will differ by region, emphasizing the potential health impact of BSOA on a local scale in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Article number161134
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Mar 20

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) grant funded by the Korean Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) ( NRF-2018R1A2B300449415 , NRF-2021M3I6A108680712 ).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022


  • Air pollution
  • Chemical transport model
  • Premature mortality
  • Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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