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South Korea passes bills to fight air pollution, says problem is 'social disaster'

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South Korea passes bills to fight air pollution, says problem is 'social disaster'
FILE PHOTO: South Korean President Moon Jae-in delivers a speech during a ceremony celebrating the 100th anniversary of the March First Independence Movement against Japanese colonial rule, in central Seoul, South Korea, March 1, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji   -   Copyright  KIM HONG-JI(Reuters)
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By Jane Chung

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s parliament on Wednesday passed a set of bills to fight air pollution that has blanketed parts of the country in recent years, with one bill designating the problem a ‘social disaster’.

Pollution in Asia’s fourth-largest economy has been driven up by factors including coal-fired power generation and high vehicle emissions, sparking widespread concern among the public and weighing on President Moon Jae-in’s approval ratings.

Designating the issue as a ‘disaster’ allows the government to use parts of its reserve funds to better respond to any damage or emergency caused by polluted air.

Other bills that were passed included mandating that every school classroom should have an air purifier and removing a limit on sales of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) vehicles, which typically produce less emissions than gasoline and diesel.

(Reporting by Jane Chung; Editing by Joseph Radford)

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