Air quality in southern Taiwan deteriorated in 2017: report

Taipei-The air quality in most of southern Taiwan was worse last year than in 2016, with the average density of fine particulate matter more than twice the acceptable level in some areas, according a report released Wednesday by a nongovernmental organization.

At 24 of the 76 monitoring stations across Taiwan, the average density of particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5) showed an increase in 2017 from the previous year, said the organization Air Clean Taiwan (ACT).

Most of the 24 stations were in Kaohsiung City and Pingtung County, where PM2.5 pollution was already far above acceptable limits, according to the ACT report, which was presented at a press conference in front of the Legislature.

In Zuoying in Kaohsiung the annual average PM2.5 density last year was 40.1 micrograms per cubic meter, way above the World Health Organization's (WHO) air quality guideline, which is 12 micrograms per cubic meter, and more than twice the local guideline of 15 micrograms per cubic meter, said ACT Director Yeh Guang-peng (???).

He said PM2.5 levels in Zuoying soared above 70 micrograms per cubic meter for a total of 661 hours in 2017, triggering "purple" alerts, the highest on Taiwan's four-color coded air quality scale.

In comparison, Keelung City in northern Taiwan recorded PM2.5 purple alerts for a total of only 2 hours last year, Yeh said.

In terms of daily levels of PM2.5, Kaohsiung exceeded the WHO's recommended limit of 25 micrograms per cubic meter for 57 percent of the days in 2017 on average, Yeh said.

Tainan City, also in southern Taiwan, recorded daily levels of PM2.5 pollution in excess of the WHO standard for 51 percent of the days last year on average, he said.

In general, air pollution in southern Taiwan was a lot worse than in the north, Yeh said.

Apart from Zuoying, the other parts of Kaohsiung where the air quality monitoring stations recorded higher pollution levels last year than in 2016 were Xiaogang, Qianzhen, Fuxing, Renwu, Nanzi, Qiaotou and Meinong, according to the report. Other stations in southern Taiwan where the air quality was worse than in 2016 were Hengchun, Pingtung, and Chaozhou in Pingtung County; and Mailiao and Taixi in Yunlin County, the report showed.

In other parts of country, higher levels of air pollution were recorded at the monitoring stations in Yonghe, Xizhi, Linkou, and Wanli in New Taipei City; Zhudong in Hsinchu County; Puli and Zhushan in Nantou County; Guanshan in Taitung County, and in Hualien, Kinmen and Penghu counties, according to the report.

In response, lawmakers across party lines, including Liu Chien-kuo of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, Chen Yi-ming (???) of the Kuomintang, and Hsu Yung-ming (???) of the New Power Party, called for processing of a bill to amend the Air Pollution Control Act during an extra legislative session that is scheduled to start on Friday.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel