The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) yesterday announced regulations on PM2.5, or particulate matter of less than 2.5 micrometers, setting the standards at a maximum 35μg/m3 daily mean concentration and a maximum 15μg/m3 annual mean concentration.
Particulate matter (PM, also known as fine particles) refers to tiny fragments of solid matter suspended in the air that can easily cross the lung wall into the human body after inhalation, affecting health, the EPA said.
Earlier this year, several doctors and medical groups warned that high exposure to fine particle pollution may cause slow mental development in children, increasing rate of fatal cardiovascular and pulmonary disease and other health problems.
Air Quality Protection and Noise Control Department Director Hsieh Yein-Rui (謝燕儒) said the standard was the same as the current standard in the US and Japan, which is the strictest level listed in national regulations globally.
The EPA said the preliminary goal was to achieve the 15μg/m3 annual mean concentration by 2020 nationwide, and the administration will review the air quality standard for PM2.5 periodically, looking to achieve the level of WHO air quality guidelines — 25μg/m3 daily mean concentration and 10μg/m3 annual mean concentration.
There are seven air pollutants listed for monitoring and determining the Pollutant Standards Index at present, and PM2.5 is the eighth pollutant to be included.
Hsieh said the administration was also setting emission standards for major sources of pollution, such as the steel industry, since it gave advance notice of amendment to air quality regulations in December last year.
The EPA said that according to the different local gas emission features, the administration is now working on setting standards for gas emissions from the steel industry in Greater Taichung, dioxin emissions from steel smelting plants in Greater Kaohsiung, gas emissions from electric power facilities in Greater Taichung and Greater Kaohsiung, and regulations for the petrochemical industry.
The PM2.5 air quality monitoring will be done manually at 30 monitoring stations nationwide, the EPA said, adding that the work is scheduled to begin in July or August.