South Korea - Country Commercial Guide
Air Pollution Control

Korea Air Pollution Control Industry overview, best prospects, trade shows and contacts

Last published date: 2022-08-02



According to the World Health Organization (WHO), fine dust or Particulate matter (PM) in the air is a serious 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, released the 2021 World Air Quality Report in March 2022 and noted that 97 Percent of global cities including Seoul did not meet the WHO’s air quality guidelines. Fortunately, however, the air quality has been improving. Korea ranked the 41st for the PM 2.5 concentration level, which was 19.5 ㎍/㎥, among 117 countries in 2020 and improved to 54th with 18.9㎍/㎥ in 2021. The Korean Ministry of Environment (MOE) monitors also confirmed that the PM 2.5 level in 2021 were the lowest according to the past five-year data, 30 percent in 2021 less than in 2016.

The MOE notes that the South Korean air pollution control market was worth $5.0 billion in 2019, decreasing from $5.1 billion in 2018. The market accounted for 5.8 percent of the total environmental technology and engineering sector in 2019. When segmenting the market by sales of goods, services and testing/analysis, the size of the air pollution control commodity and equipment sector is by far the largest.

                                                     (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 Korean Ministry of Environment monitors and regulates emissions of air pollutants and hazardous air substances under the Clean Air Conservation Act. In May 2019, a revised bill with more strict guidelines was announced. Emission standards were strengthened by 30 percent compared to the previous bill and new standards were set for substances that had not been regulated before. By 2024, the Korean government plans to lower the fine dust concentration by over 35%. As of 2020, the Korea government enforces regulatory limits on 11 air pollutants and 32 hazardous air substances which are up from 11 air pollutants and 18 hazardous air substances in the previous bill.

Korea’s 61 coal-fired plants are one of the main contributors to air pollution. These plants also accounted for 52.5 percent of the country’s total power generation in 2018. The country has the highest share of super and ultra-super critical power plants in operation in the world. 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 2016, the country’s Trade Minister announced further air pollution control measures by targeting the closure of 10 thirty-year-old coal-fired power plants by 2025. 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, by 2024, outdoor coal storage facilities will be replaced to indoor storage facilities.  

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 meters (㎍/㎥) from 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 watch and warning. 

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 successfully penetrate the market, 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 which maintain existing sales networks to serve end-users and which are fully aware of the regulatory changes that drive the market. Exhibiting at local environmental trade shows can also be a good platform to explore the market and gain exposure to end-users.


Trade Shows

International Exhibition on Environmental Technologies (ENVEX)
June 8 ~ 10, 2022

Key Contacts

Local Contact

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