Burning ghost money, incense hazardous: The Environmental Protection Administration

TAIPEI, CNA and China Post staff

The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) warned against the burning of environmentally damaging ghost money and incense yesterday, announcing that fines of up to NT$100,000 could be imposed on violators.

With the traditional Zhongyuan Ghost Festival fast approaching, a festival during which Taiwan people ready feasts and burn ghost money as offerings for “ghosts from the nether world,” EPA officials reiterated to the public that it is illegal to burn ghost money and incense outdoors and said violators will be fined from NT$5,000-100,000.

Officials at the EPA pointed out that when ghost money is burned, hazardous pollutants, including oxysulfide, nitrogen oxide and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, will be released into the atmosphere, causing harm not only to humans but also to the environment as a whole.

EPA officials also quoted research results put forth by the Consumers’ Foundation as suggesting that burning incense is equally harmful, with the release into the atmosphere of pollutants such as benzene, methyl benzene and ethyl benzene.

Thus far, authorities in 15 cities and counties around the country, including Taipei City and Taipei County as well Kaohsiung City and Kaohsiung County, have proposed burning ghost money and incense simultaneously for worshippers in closed locations to reduce pollution levels, the officials reported.

Noting that the centralized burning service is not aimed at encouraging the public to burn ghost money per se but rather to raise their environmental awareness, EPA officials cautioned the public against burning ghost money altogether, as the substances released upon burning are hazardous.

Meanwhile, they said, the counties of Taipei, Taoyuan, Kaohsiung and Pingtung, as well as the Kaohsiung City, have even begun to provide worship rituals online to allow the public to worship gods or appease ghosts as they please in complete cleanliness.