A recent test conducted by the Kaohsiung City Government’s Environmental Protection Bureau found that the air at major intersections at rush hour contained excessive amounts of carcinogens.
Wu Chia-an (吳家安), a section chief at the bureau, said air samples collected at the intersections of Minzu and Jianguo roads, Minzu and Jiouru roads, and Dashun and Jhongjheng roads during rush hour contained high concentrations of benzene, methyl benzene, xylene and methyl t-butyl ether, a gasoline additive.
Wu said the amount of benzene in the samples was 13 times higher than normal, non-rush-hour levels, while the amount of methyl benzene was 17 times normal levels and xylene levels were at 85 times the normal amount.
Chronic exposure to these substances may contribute to leukemia, genetic mutation and pathological changes to major organs such as lungs, liver and kidneys, Wu said.
Wu said scooters were the principal reason for the high concentration of these toxic substances, adding that excessive inhalation of the substances could only be prevented by donning an activated charcoal face mask during rush hour.
As air pollution is a serious problem in the nation’s major cities, the public is advised to take public transportation and avoid using scooters to mitigate the pollution and its threats to human health, he said.