Six cities and counties in central and southern Taiwan yesterday jointly pledged to ban the burning of petroleum coke and coal in a bid to combat air pollution and reduce PM2.5 emissions.
PM2.5 is an indicator of airborne particles measuring 2.5 micrometers or less — small enough to penetrate deep into human lungs.
The six local governments making the pledge on regional air pollution control are Yunlin and Chiayi counties, as well as Chiayi, Tainan, Taichung and Chunghua.
Photo: Tang Shih-ming, Taipei Times
At the event held in Yunlin yesterday, Yunlin County Commissioner Lee Chin-yung (李進勇) said that the PM2.5 density over central and southern Taiwan is the highest in the nation, adding that 40 percent of the PM2.5 pollutants in Yunlin are transported from outside the county.
Burning of coal and petroleum coke is a significant source of PM2.5 emissions and prohibiting the practice is essential to improving air quality, he said, adding that it requires the united efforts of central and southern municipalities to effectively curb air pollution.
Changhua County Deputy Commissioner Chou Chih-chung (周志中) said that the county is surrounded by major plants and factories, including the Taichung Power Plant and Formosa Petrochemical Corp’s (台塑石化) naphtha cracker, making it vulnerable to air pollution throughout the year.
He called for the establishment of a cross-municipality agency to monitor air pollution in central and southern Taiwan and to make research data available to the public.
Chiayi Mayor Twu Shiing-jer (涂醒哲) said that people might be able to avoid tainted foodstuffs, but not contaminated air, adding that more than six of the 10 leading causes of death in the nation have to do with air pollution.
The effect of air pollution crosses geographical and municipal boundaries, and it relies on joint cooperation among municipalities to fight it, he said.
He said Chiayi has experienced severe air pollution even without a source of PM2.5 emissions in the county, adding that the average annual PM2.5 density over Chiayi last year peaked at 34.7 micrometers per cubic meter, topping all other municipalities in Taiwan.
The naphtha cracker is the most significant contributor to Chiayi’s pollution, he said, adding that a total of 5,595 tonnes of sulfide compounds and 8,200 tonnes of nitrogen oxide compounds could be prevented from entering the atmosphere if the plant were to stop burning coal and petroleum coke.
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