It is a custom in Taiwan to make offerings and burn paper ghost money for the Chungyuan Festival (中元節, also known as the Ghost Festival) that falls on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month, which is today, but experts warn the resulting air pollution poses a health hazard.
According to a recent study by Lung Shih-chun (龍世俊), a researcher at Academia Sinica’s Research Center for Environmental Changes, burning paper money at temples increases the amount of harmful particles in the air that can be carcinogenic when inhaled.
In scientific circles, the measuring standard for airborne particles is PM2.5 (particulate matter at 2.5 micrometers or less).
Lung said her team has measured PM2.5 levels of 43 micrograms per cubic meter in communities with a temple nearby, and she said this is nearly double the minimum recommended value of 25 micrograms per cubic meter over 24 hours, as set by the WHO.
“The burning of ghost money at local temples is a major source of PM2.5 air pollution in many local communities. Long-term exposure and inhaling of these pollutants can lead to respiratory disease and other health problems,” Lung said.
She and her team have measured high values of PM2.5 at 153 micrograms per cubic meter, and PM10 values of 230 micrograms per cubic meter at large temples during religious ceremony days, which mostly occur on the first and 15th days of the lunar calendar month.
“These values are at five to 16 times the normal value of a regular household’s environment. Therefore we urge people to reduce their time spent at temples or to go to a temple with good air circulation,” Lung said.
Lung’s research indicated that where a community has a temple, nearby households have an increased PM2.5 value at an average of 15.1 micrograms per cubic meter, due to the burning of incense and ghost money.
Lung said temples, restaurants, and construction sites — a source of windblown dust — were three major sources of air pollution in residential communities in the nation.
She said that inhaling PM2.5 pollutants at a close distance is the most direct and most dangerous form of exposure.
She added that her research had been published in the scientific journal Atmospheric Environment this year.
In carrying out the research, the team chose 12 residential communities in Taipei City and New Taipei City, with a total of 123 monitoring sites, including temples, restaurants, construction sites, small factories, shops, public parks and busy traffic spots.
Overall, it was found that temples with burning incense sticks and ghost money caused the highest level of air pollution, with an average PM2.5 value of 45 micrograms per cubic meter, followed by restaurants at 37, and 25 for construction sites.
Lung advised those burning ghost money or participating in traditional pudu (普渡) ceremonies to keep a distance from the incense pot.
“The Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] can help to reduce air pollution by offering incentives for temples to cut down on burning ghost money or use environmentally friendly burners,” she said. “The EPA can also establish certification standards for household kitchen ventilators. This can be effective to control air pollution in residential areas.”
Taiwan might be China’s next target after it has “walled off” Hong Kong from the rest of the world with its new national security legislation, Academia Sinica Institute of Sociology fellow Wu Jieh-min (吳介民) said on Thursday. At a seminar organized by the Economic Democracy Union, the Taiwan Association for Human Rights, the Hong Kong Outlanders and the Judicial Reform Foundation, Wu said that the legislation is simultaneously a fig leaf concealing Beijing’s autocratic rule in Hong Kong and a figurative “Berlin Wall,” denying democratic countries access to Hong Kong. Wu said it is evident that Taiwan would be China’s next target. The
SAFETY CONCERNS: A construction company working nearby admitted to negligence in the incident, and is to pay a fine and other expenses related to damages Residents of homes adjacent to an alleyway in New Taipei City’s Yonghe District (永和) on Saturday were forced to evacuate their homes after the road collapsed, the New Taipei City government said yesterday. An 80m by 4m area in an alleyway on Wenhua Road (文化路) collapsed at 10:39am near an apartment building construction site where work was being done on the project’s foundation. The incident also ruptured an underground gas pipe and tilted several buildings in the area. Residents would not be able to return to their homes until tomorrow or Wednesday, when repairs are expected to be finished, the city government said. Workers
CHALLENGER DEEP: Lin Ying-Tsong was invited by Caladan Oceanic founder Victor Vescovo to join him on a 10-hour long trip in the company’s submersible Taiwanese-American Lin Ying-Tsong (林穎聰) last month became the first person from Asia and the 12th in human history to dive into the deepest part on Earth, the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench. Lin, 45, an expert in deep sea acoustics with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts, joined US adventurer and Caladan Oceanic founder Victor Vescovo, 54, on June 22 in a descent to the central pool of the Challenger Deep, the deepest point of the trench, which lies at a depth of more than 10,900m. The pair made the descent in a submersible named Limiting Factor, a US$37
ARMS RACE: Two DPP lawmakers said that China’s development model differed from Taiwan’s, as it aims to become a global hegemon, while Taiwan seeks to protect itself Taiwanese national defense experts are split on how Taiwan should respond to the ever-growing budget of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), with some advocating for Taiwan to increase defense spending, while others say that little can be done. The Legislative Yuan approved NT$358 billion (US$12.1 billion) for national defense spending across fiscal 2020, a 3.47 percent increase compared with last year, while China’s military budget this year is NT$5.4 trillion, more than 15 times that of Taiwan. Regardless of whether the government adopts a zero-based budgeting method for national defense spending — in which all expenses are justified and approved each