Mon, Jan 06, 2014 - Page 1 News List

Most of the nation shrouded in smog

BREATHING UNHEALTHY:The EPA cautioned the public to avoid intensive outdoor activities and to wear surgical masks as air quality readings flashed red

By Tang Chia-ling  /  Staff reporter

Three women walk along a sidewalk in Taipei on Saturday wearing surgical masks.

Photo: Chen Chih-chu, Taipei Times

Most of Taiwan was shrouded in smog yesterday because of particulate matter in the air that has moved in from abroad, the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) said.

Environmental Monitoring and Data Processing Bureau Director Chu Yu-chi (朱雨其) yesterday said that as the air pollutants — relatively high concentrations of particulate matter brought in by a continental cold air mass — move south along with the northeastern monsoon they create a “overlaying” effect and cause increased air pollution in the south.

That overlaying effect will likely cause concentrations of particulate matter to become worse in the south today and the air quality on the outlying islands of Kinmen and Matsu will only start to improve tomorrow, he added.

The agency cautioned the public, especially those allergic to air pollutants, to avoid intensive outdoor activities and to wear surgical masks.

According to data from the EPA’s air quality monitoring network, at 7pm yesterday 23 of the nation’s 76 monitoring stations — more than 30 percent — were reporting a red reading (unhealthy air quality). The stations were all located in central and southern Taiwan, as well as on Kinmen and Matsu.

As of 2pm yesterday, the highest concentration levels of fine particulate matter PM10 (particles under 10 micrometers in diameter) was more than 200μg/m³ detected in Greater Kaohsiung’s Fengshan (鳳山) and Cianjin (前金) districts, while PM2.5 levels were more than 120μg/m³ — three times the standard.

Chu said the air pollution was still serious in northern Taiwan yesterday morning, mainly along the coast in Taoyuan County’s Dayuan (大園) and Guanyin (觀音) districts, and New Taipei City’s (新北市) Wanli (萬里) District.

The Central Weather Bureau yesterday forecast that the cold air mass currently influencing Taiwan will ease today and give way to warmer weather and improved air quality for about three days, before another cold air mass arrives.

Once the cold air mass leaves the nation, temperatures will climb to a high of 22°C in northern Taiwan and between 22°C and 26°C in central and southern areas, the bureau said.

The fair weather is set to remain until Thursday evening when the bureau forecast another cold air mass would arrive dragging temperatures as low as 10?C in northern and central areas, and bringing occasional showers.

Additional reporting by CNA

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