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Seeing the dusky sky on their way to work, many people started to put on facemasks. The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) says that due to lack of atmospheric diffusion, air quality in western Taiwan is low. Fine particle levels are high or extremely high from northern to southern Taiwan, and central-southern parts of the island are the most polluted with 12 inspection stations reaching the hazardous “Purple Alert.”

According to the Central News Agency, the EPA’s Air Quality Monitoring Network indicates that PM2.5 levels in various areas has exceeded the “extremely high” Purple Alert, including Situn, Chung Ming, Dali, Changhua, Douliou, Lunbei, Singang, Sinying and Annan inspection stations.

In addition, several inspection stations including Taixi, Puzih, Shanhua and Tainan came to “Brown Alert,” which is just on the brink of the Purple Alert. Other inspection stations located on the west coast are mostly at “Red Alert” as well. The EPA explains that poor diffusion conditions have brought about the rapidly increasing levels of PM2.5, and reminds people with allergies to refrain from going outdoors or doing rigorous exercises. Those with asthma might have to increase the frequency of using inhalers.

UDN reports that even northern regions are suffering from poor air quality in the morning as well. Sanchong and Sinjhuang in New Taipei City are approaching “Purple Alert,” having exceeded 66 micrograms of fine particles. On the other hand, the data of Wanhua and Shihlin in Taipei City fluctuates around 60 micrograms.

Director of EPA’s monitoring department Tsai Hung-de says that the main reason of low air qualities in the morning is emission from vehicles, thermal power generators, steel plants, and large-scale factories. Despite the west and northwestern winds covering western Taiwan, their weak forces don’t help much in air diffusion, so air pollutants aren’t dispersed. Moreover, the coastal areas of China have recently gone through massive downpour, indicating the country has nothing to do with the current poor air quality in Taiwan.

A Facebook page advocating for making public data related air pollution verifies with data, “Stop claiming that pollutants drift from China all the way here. It’s easy to push the responsibility outwards, and stop blaming trivial sources such as farmers burning hay. Please have all environmental protection units put an effort in investigating, especially local factories polluting at large scale.”

Data Visualization indicates, “According to the EPA, factors contributing to air pollution include local vehicular activity, factory operation and thermal power generators. However when applying related data, we ought to consider the relation between cause and effect along with data range to avoid information being overly one-sided and losing focus of the issue.”

Apple Daily reports, PM2.5 levels in central Taiwan along with the Yunlin and Chiayi regions reached the hazardous Purple Alert on November 8. The EPA’s PM2.5 Index shows almost one-third of the nation’s cities are plagued by poor air qualities for over 100 days with Nantou at worst with 147 days.

Conservation Mothers Foundation criticizes that all the EPA does is remind people to stay at home, which “is hardly the behavior of a normal nation.” The EPA should be bold in inspecting and fining the major parties responsible for air pollution. Citizens should have the right to fresh air and exercising outdoors.

The Allergies Director of Taichung Veteran’s General Hospital Tsai Zhao-ji says, starting in October, the number of elderly with allergies has increased 20%. Rheumatism Doctor Huang Bo-hao of the Chinese Medical University Hospital states that allergy patients have increased in the past two months with many cases of asthma, coughing, running noses and continuous night coughing.

PM2.5 is fine particles generated by factory incineration, vehicular combust, paper money burning or firecracker lighting. They are composed of toxics, such as heavy metal and dioxin. Yang Peng-shen, vice director of the Coalition for Taiwan’s Healthy and Clean Air, indicates that PM2.5 is capable of entering the alveolus through respiratory system, leading to a systemic inflammatory response. It also increases the risks of cardiovascular diseases, lung cancer and uterine fibroids. The UN has listed PM2.5 as a carcinogen.

Translated by Wade Cheng
Edited by Olivia Yang