South Korea - Country Commercial Guide
Air Pollution Control
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According to the World Health Organization (WHO), fine dust or particulate matter (PM) in the air is a severe health threat in Korea as it contains nitrates, black carbon, and mineral dust with aerodynamic diameters of less than 2.5 micrometers (㎛) that can be inhaled to penetrate the cardiovascular system. IQAir, a Swiss-based air quality technology company, noted in its 2022 World Air Quality Report that nearly 90 percent of countries, 118 out of 131 countries, in the report did not achieve PM2.5 concentrations at or below the WHO guideline for annual PM2.5 concentrations of 5 μg/m3 in 2022.  Among 131 countries, Korea ranked 56th for the PM 2.5 concentration level in 2022, down from 41st in 2021.The PM 2.5 concentration level decreased to 18.3 ㎍/㎥ in 2022 from 19.5 ㎍/㎥ in 2021. According to Air Korea, an affiliated organization of Korea’s Ministry of Environment (MOE), the PM 2.5 concentration level has decreased for three consecutive years, starting from 2019 until 2022.

The MOE noted that the South Korean air pollution control market was worth $4.8 billion in 2020, decreasing from $5.0 billion in 2019. The market accounted for 5.7 percent of the total environmental technology and engineering sector in 2020. The Air Pollution Control Equipment Industry accounted for 76.5 percent of the total air pollution control market, followed by the Air Pollution Control RelatedEquipment Industry.

Market size for air pollution control industry   (Unit: USD million)

Table: Market size for air pollution control industry  





Air Pollution Control Equipment Industry 




Air Pollution Control Related Construction Industry 




Air Pollution Control Related Service Industry 




Indoor Air Quality Control Related Equipment Industry 




Indoor Air Quality Control Related Service Industry 




Air Pollution Analysis, Data Collection, and Evaluation Service Industry 




Total Air Pollution Control Industry 




 Source: Environmental Statistics Yearbook 2019, 2020, and 2021 by the Korean Ministry of Environment

The MOE announces a new master plan to improve air quality every ten years. In December 2022, the newly released master plan noted that by 2030, the Korean government plans to lower the fine dust concentration by over 35 percent compared to the fine dust concentration in 2018. The MOE also monitors and regulates emissions of air pollutants and hazardous air substances under the Clean Air Conservation Act, which is revised constantly. The most recently revised bill, from December 2022, adds provisions for low-emission vehicles to promote their development, sales, and use. New decrees will be introduced accordingly.  As of 2020, the Korean government enforces regulatory limits on 11 air pollutants and 32 hazardous air substances, up from 11 air pollutants and 18 hazardous air substances in the previous bill.

Korea’s 57 coal-fired plants, which account for 41.9 percent of the total electricity generation, are also a major source of air pollution. The country has the highest share of super and ultra-supercritical power plants worldwide. The government is taking measures to retrofit the plants with carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS), selective catalytic reduction (SCR), and flue gas desulfurization (FGD) systems. Although Korea’s coal‐fired power plants are relatively modern and large, with newer steam parameters, in July 2022, the Korea Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy announced further air pollution control measures by targeting the closure of 30 coal-fired power plants by 2034. Twenty-four of them will be renovated as natural gas-fired power plants. In addition, the government will replace turbines at several plants to boost power efficiency and expand the capacity of circulation pumps to reduce emissions. Also, outdoor coal storage facilities will be replaced by indoor storage facilities by 2024.  

The enforcement decree of tightening air quality guidelines for fine dust was passed in 2018. Under the changed rules, the standards for PM 2.5 fine dust will be revised to a daily average of 35 micrograms per square meter (㎍/㎥) from the current 50㎍/㎥ and yearly average to 15㎍/㎥ from 25㎍/㎥, the same as those of Japan and the United States. The Korean Ministry of Environment also plans to modify enforcement rules under the Clean Air Conservation Act to strengthen standards for fine dust watches and warnings.

Sub-Sector Best Prospects

The U.S. is considered a global leader in many environmental technologies. While companies with competitive technologies and services should have the potential to penetrate the market successfully, this sector has a high level of competition and is price sensitive. The following areas may hold prospects:

·        Continuous emissions monitoring systems.

·        Dry sorbent injection technologies.

·        Flue gas desulfurization (FGD) systems.

·        Activated carbon injection technologies.

·        Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technologies.

·        Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS).

·        Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) control.

·        Dioxin abatement.

·        Pollution abatement technologies for the automobile and oil refinery industries.

·        Ambient air quality monitoring equipment.

·        Source emissions measurement technologies.

·        Analytical and laboratory testing goods and services.

·        Fuel vapor control systems.

·        H13 or above high-end air purifiers (optionally with carbon filters).


There are opportunities in the air pollution technology and environmental consultancy markets.

To enter the environmental technology market, U.S. suppliers should partner with qualified and capable South Korean companies that maintain existing sales networks to serve end-users and are fully aware of the regulatory changes driving the market. Exhibiting at local environmental trade shows can also be an excellent platform to explore the market and gain exposure to end-users.


Trade Shows

International Exhibition on Environmental Technologies (ENVEX)
June 7 ~ 9, 2023

Key Contacts

·        Ministry of Environment -

·        Regulation Resource: Clean Air Conservation Act -

U.S. Commercial Service Korea   
U.S. Embassy Seoul
188 Sejong-daero, Jongro-gu
Seoul 03141, Korea
Tel: 82-2-397-4535