Sat, Dec 24, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Stricter air quality standards needed, gynecologists say

CLEANER AIR:Pregnant women exposed to particle pollution are more likely to develop symptoms that lead to premature labor and allergic, low-weight babies

Staff Writer, with CNA

Several gynecologists and pediatricians on Thursday urged the government to set stricter air quality standards for particle pollution to create better living conditions for pregnant women, responding to a government plan to adopt the same standards set by Japan and the US.

Earlier this month, the Environmental Protection Administration announced it would adopt the particle pollution standards set by the two countries, which are a daily average of 35 micrograms per cubic meter of air (ug/m3) and an annual average of 15ug/m3.

Yeh Guang-peng (葉光芃), standing director of the Changhua Medical Alliance for Public Affairs, said the 15ug/m3 daily standard was ranked only 481st among air qualities monitored in 565 cities by the WHO.

Huang Min-chao (黃閔照), secretary-general of the Taiwan Association of Obstetrics and Gynecology, agreed with Yeh’s view and said research projects have found that newborns are more likely to die prematurely when exposed to a high density of polluting particles in the air.

Huang added that the country’s Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act (菸害防制法) prevents pregnant women from smoking, but the adverse health effects caused by exposure to particles in the air are no less harmful than smoking.

Pregnant women who are exposed to particle pollution are more likely to develop symptoms that lead to premature labor. They may also give birth to allergic, low-weight babies, he said.

Ko Wen-che (柯文哲), director of the Department of Traumatology at National Taiwan University Hospital, said the government should establish stricter standards to improve the nation’s air quality.

Huang Ming-sheng, a member of the Changhua Medical Alliance for Public Affairs, said the alliance would ask the three presidential candidates to attend a particle pollution summit scheduled for tomorrow in Taipei.

The candidates would be required to explain their views on and measures to reduce particle pollutants, Huang said.

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