Wave of air pollution to hit Taiwan late Friday, early Saturday

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In this Oct. 22, 2017 file photo, a cyclist wearing a facial mask makes her way in downtown Taipei. The Environmental Protection Administration said Friday that a heavy wave of air pollution is expected to hit Taiwan sometime between late Friday night and early Saturday morning. (CNA)

TAIPEI (CNA) — A heavy wave of air pollution is expected to hit Taiwan sometime between late Friday night and early Saturday morning, the Environmental Protection Administration’s (EPA) Department of Environmental Monitoring and Information Management said on Friday.

Speaking with reporters, Chang Shun-chin (張順欽), director of the EPA department, noted that northeasterly winds will bring a wave of air pollutants with a high concentration of fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) that will adversely impact air quality in Taiwan for most of tomorrow.

A concentration of 60 to 80 micrograms per cubic meter of PM 2.5 is expected to hit Taiwan, which is considerably higher than the 24-hour mean of 35 micrograms per cubic meter the country currently has as a standard for acceptable PM 2.5 levels.

Air quality in northern Taiwan, as well as outlying islands of Matzu and Kinmen, will be unhealthy for sensitive groups, flashing an orange color on the EPA’s air quality indicator, which rates air quality based on six different colors.

On the EPA’s six-color scale, which takes into account concentrations of ozone, PM2.5 and PM10 particulates, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitric oxide in the air, green represents good air quality with an index reading of 0-50; yellow indicates moderate air quality with a reading of 50-100; orange means unhealthy air quality for sensitive groups, with a reading of 101-150; red indicates unhealthy quality with a range of 151-200; purple signals very unhealthy levels at 201-300; and maroon represents hazardous levels at a reading of 301-500.

If the situation deteriorates, air quality in northern Taiwan could move into the “unhealthy” category, which means it would adversely impact the health of the general population.

In southern Taiwan, air quality will be unhealthy for all groups most of the day, flashing red for the entire region.

According to Chang, Taiwan often suffers from bad air quality caused by external sources from October to April due to the flow of northeasterly winds. 

By Wu Hsin-yun and Kuan-lin Liu