Wed, Dec 10, 2014 - Page 3 News List

EPA unveils PM2.5 warning system

SMART DATA:The agency said it would add real-time data to its app so smartphone users could be informed about air quality conditions forecast to hit the nation

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

A fine particulate matter pollution detector to be installed on Dongyin Isle in Lienchiang County is pictured in an Environmental Protection Administration building in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Tsai Ying, Taipei Times

The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) yesterday announced that it would set up an automatic particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5, particles under 2.5 micrometers in diameter) monitor on Lienchiang County’s Dongyin Isle (東引) and launch a warning system as an enhanced feature of its real-time environmental data app to warn of air pollutants carried by the northeastern trade winds blowing from China every winter.

Environmental Monitoring and Data Processing Bureau Director Chu Yu-chi (朱雨其) said that the trade winds are prevalent from November to May, causing sandstorms and haze in the nation, and are a major source of air pollutants.

Haze causes increased levels of PM2.5 — suspended matter in the air that is about one-twenty-eighth the thickness of a human hair — while sandstorms are correlated to PM10 levels, Chu said.

Describing the isle as the nation’s “outpost” for monitoring air pollutants, Chu said Dongyin was chosen because it is the northernmost spot within the nation’s territory and also because of its close proximity to China, about 30km.

“The airstreams coming from China during autumn, winter and spring all pass over the isle, and there are no large-scale economic activities [that would distort measurements], making it an ideal place to set up the device,” Chu said.

“Our previous attempts at setting up sensors there were unsuccessful, as the high salinity in the ocean breeze easily damaged the equipment. However, this time, the device will be placed indoors, with only its sensor exposed to the air,” he added.

Chu said that the EPA would add a new feature to the app that issues notifications to smartphone users in sync with data presented on the agency’s Web site, warning people about substandard air quality.

“If the weather conditions permit, the system is capable of warning people of poor air quality one to two hours before the pollutants hit Taiwan proper, allowing the public more time to take precautions,” he said.

He said the EPA uses data obtained from a range of sources for real-time air quality monitoring and warnings, including a system it jointly developed with National Taiwan University, the Central Weather Bureau, the US Naval Research Laboratory, as well as data provided by South Korea, Japan and China.

Another major source of air pollution in the nation is locally generated pollutants in southern Taiwan, Chu said. The southern municipalities are on the leeward side of the Central Mountain Range, which obstructs the northeastern trade winds from entering those area, making conditions poor for dissipation, Chu said.

Consequently, pollutants, such as those from petrochemical plants and coal-fired power plants, accumulate in the region, he said.

The device and the new early-warning feature on the app will become operational next month, he added.

This story has been viewed 2633 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top