Northeast monsoon to bring PM2.5 particles and poor air quality

2017/12/04 20:27:11 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
Northeast monsoon to bring PM2.5 particles and poor air quality

Taipei, Dec. 4 (CNA) The northeast monsoon is expected to bring fine particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5) per cubic meter to Taiwan and impact air quality, starting Monday evening, according to the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA).

The impact is expected to last until about 6 a.m. Tuesday and be worst early morning in northern Taiwan, the EPA said, urging the public not to take any outdoor activity during that time.

Chang Shun-chin (張順欽), head of the EPA's Department of Environmental Monitoring and Information Management, told the press that the highest concentration of PM2.5 will range from 80-90 micrograms per cubic meter for one hour early Tuesday morning in northern Taiwan.

Bad air quality will affect northern Taiwan first and then spread to central areas, with residents in southern Taiwan expected to be least impacted by the monsoon, Chang said.

On Monday night, Chang said, the Air Quality Index (AQI) will flash an orange light in northern Taiwan, which indicates unhealthy air quality for sensitive groups, but air quality is expected to improve throughout Tuesday afternoon.

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.

While the latest northeast monsoons are unlikely to affect southern Taiwan too much, air quality in the area has been poor in recent days and will remain the same on Monday and Tuesday, Chang said.

Chang said the AQI in Kaohsiung and Pingtung could potentially flash a red light, worse than the orange light expected for northern Taiwan since geography makes it harder for poor air in the counties to disperse and so particles easily accumulate. Shieh Ping-fei (謝炳輝), deputy director of the EPA's Department of Air Quality Protection and Noise Control, said while air quality is also affected by air pollutants from China, the EPA is determined to continue to tighten controls on pollutants arising domestically by introducing a wide range of measures including a move to encourage the retirement of old vehicles.

In addition, the EPA will intensify crackdowns on the burning of rice stalks by farmers which makes air quality worse, Shieh said.

In the first 11 months of this year, the AQI flashed 382 red lights across Taiwan, much lower than 789 over the same period of last year.

(By Yang Shu-min and Frances Huang)

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