Wed, Oct 24, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Venues unprepared for new air quality standards

COUNTDOWN:Given that so many of the facilities are not ready, DPP and TSU lawmakers want to know how the Environmental Protect Administration will respond

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

From left to right, Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Lin Shih-chia and Democratic Progressive Party legislators Chao Tien-lin and Lee Ying-yuan yesterday in Taipei show results of a survey revealing that few places are ready to implement the Indoor Air Quality Management Act when it comes into force on Nov. 23.

Photo: CNA

With the Indoor Air Quality Management Act (室內空氣品質管理法) taking effect on Nov. 23, a survey shows that more than half of regulated public venues are not prepared for nor understand the regulations, legislators said yesterday.

Stipulating that owners, managers or employers of mass gathering spaces are responsible for ensuring good indoor air quality in the venues, the act was passed by the legislature and promulgated by the president in November last year, and was scheduled to take effect one year after.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Chao Tien-lin (趙天麟) said the act would take effect next month, but most of the six types of public venues listed by the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) as applicable targets — preschools, medical facilities, elderly care facilities, government facilities, transportation facilities and shopping venues — are not ready.

“Being the second in the world, following South Korea, to set such regulations, we are supportive of its good intentions, but it is about to take effect, and the majority of people still have no clue about it,” Chao said.

Revealing the results of a survey of 644 venues this month, he said up to 81.8 percent of preschools and 71.7 percent of elderly care facilities did not know when the act will take effect, and only 72.7 percent of medical facilities and 62.5 percent of government facilities knew the enforcement date.

The survey found that only 59.1 percent of medical facilities knew the management standards of the act, while more than half of the other five types of facilities remained ignorant of the standards, including 91.3 percent of elderly care facilities and 95.2 percent of preschools.

“It is ridiculous that up to 43.8 percent of government facilities answered that they ‘will wait for further high-level decisions’ to determine their response,” Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Lin Shih-chia (林世嘉) said. “It is a pity the good-intentioned policy is being discounted.”

DPP Legislator Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) said the enforcement priority should be put on preschools and elderly care facilities, and asked how the EPA will enforce the act.

Hsieh Yein-rui (謝燕儒), director of the EPA’s Air Quality Protection and Noise Control Department, said the agency will hold instructional courses for the managers of the venues according to different group priorities, promulgate the enforcement of the act six months later on the groups in sequence and also allow a grace period after promulgation.

The department plans to announce the criteria for the first priority group of venues before the enforcement date, he said, adding that it was likely to include public care centers with more than 500 people, government facilities that citizens often visit and MRT stations and train stations with higher numbers of passengers.

After the detailed guidelines are announced and the grace period is over, managers who fail to meet the standards may face a fine of up to NT$250,000 if the situation is not improved within a given timeframe.

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