Air Quality Regulations to be Amended due to High Air Pollution Levels

Air Quality Regulations to be Amended due to High Air Pollution Levels
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New regulations now state once the PM2.5 concentration reaches an urgent 350 micrograms, all outdoor activity such as tourism or sports, and painting, as well as asphalt-laying for either industrial or commercial purposes, will be prohibited. All transportation, other than public transportation and electric vehicles, are banned while local governments will allow parking on red and yellow lines temporarily.

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The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) announced that the “Measures for Seriously Deteriorating Air Quality” are to be amended due to the constant Purple Alerts issued by various air inspection stations around the nation in the past few days.

New regulations now state once the PM2.5 concentration reaches an urgent 350 micrograms, all outdoor activity such as tourism or sports, and painting, as well as asphalt-laying for either industrial or commercial purposes, will be prohibited. All transportation, other than public transportation and electric vehicles, are banned while local governments will allow parking on red and yellow lines temporarily.

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On the other hand, factories ought to reduce 40% of pollutant emission, and it will be up to local governments to decide whether or not work and school will be cancelled.

UDN reports, this is the largest amendment in terms of air quality the EPA has made in recent years. The new measure will break pollution alerts down to four levels, adding “early warning” to the existing ”primary,” “intermediate,” and “serious” levels.

Similar to typhoon warning systems, the pollution index will include PM2.5 and issue an “early warning” along with launching precautionary methods when concentration levels exceed 54 micrograms.

China Times reports, the concentration level for triggering “intermediate” level is 420 micrograms of PM10. Regions where air quality has severely deteriorated will prohibit two-stroke motorcycles and diesel trucks weighing more than 3.5 tons. Outdoor sports tournaments will be restricted, with senior high schools and under, including kindergartens, banned from outdoor activities. Last but not least, factories should reduce 20% of pollutant emission and constructions should be halted immediately.

A preliminary countering mechanism will be launched once PM10 exceeds 350 micrograms or PM2.5 reaches 150 micrograms. The mechanism will forbid traditional festive activities, including open burning, incense burning, paper money incineration and lighting fireworks and firecrackers.

Moreover, outdoor tournaments will be postponed; factories are to change fuel types to cleaner ones, and 3.5-ton diesel trucks manufactured or imported before 2006 should be regulated.

Central News Agency reports, according to previous air pollution inspection records, PM2.5 has never exceeded 250 micrograms. Director of EPA’s monitoring department Tsai Hung-de indicates that the highest PM2.5 level documented appeared on December 7, 2013 in Matsu, reaching 233 micrograms.

Statistically, there have been 3,452 occurrences of PM2.5 exceeding 54 micrograms from 2013 to 2015, taking up 6.13% of the total days.

Tsai adds that there has been several occurrences on the main island of Taiwan when PM2.5 concentration levels exceeded 150 micrograms; once each in the two air inspection stations in Kaoshiung in 2006 and 2007, once or twice in five inspection stations in the southwest region in 2008 and once in four inspection stations in the northern region in 2010. The main culprit was Chinese smog.

Apple Daily reports, the amended measure has also adjusted the Pollutant Standard Index. For instance, the situation would be declared urgent should the daily average PM10 exceed 500 micrograms. Since Taiwan initiated air quality inspections in 2006, there have been 55 days that fulfilled the requirements and 47 days that breached the standards due to sandstorms in China on March 21, 2010.

If we take the highest PM10 level recorded into account, the top three were recorded in Taipei when sandstorms in China took place, marking an unprecedented record of 956 micrograms in Shihlin.

Translated by Wade Cheng
Edited by Olivia Yang

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