The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) yesterday urged people to heed poor air quality warnings issued because of Typhoon Soudelor, which the agency said caused concentrations of particulates measuring up to 10 micrometers (PM10) and particulates measuring less than 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5) to spike in central, southern and eastern Taiwan.
Data produced by the EPA’s Web site showed elevated levels of PM10 in Yunlin’s Mailiao Township (麥寮), with readings reaching 726 micrograms per cubic meter (micrograms per m3) at 1pm, which means hazardous according to the EPA.
Substandard air quality was also recorded in Taitung County’s Guangshang Township (關山) yesterday afternoon, with PM10 concentration peaking at 565 micrograms per m3.
The EPA also detected brief surges in hourly PM2.5 levels in Tainan’s Sinying (新營) and Shanhua (善化) districts, as well as in Chiayi City (嘉義).
In Chiayi City and Sinying, PM2.5 concentrations peaked at 11am at 65 and 70 micrograms per m3 respectively, with the readings indicating a level 9 on the agency’s PM2.5 index, meaning concentrations were very high.
The reading in Shanhua at noon reached 90 micrograms per m3 — a level 10, indicating the air quality is at its most harmful and that PM2.5 levels were extremely high.
According to a report published by the WHO, exposure to either PM2.5 or PM10 negatively affects people who suffer from asthma, allergies or cardiovascular diseases, shortens life expectancy and can increase the risk of cancer.
EPA Department of Environmental Monitoring and Information Management Director-General Tsai Hung-te (蔡鴻德) linked elevated levels of particulates to the typhoon, which hit Taiwan last night.
As a result, its outer rim caused winds to pick up speed and stir up fugitive dust — a major source of PM10 — along Jhuoshuei (濁水溪) and Beinan rivers (卑南溪), which contributed to the high concentrations of PM10 in Mailiao and Guangshan.
He said that as the typhoon’s outer rim was spinning counter-clockwise, it could have also carried pollutants from municipalities further north, which led to short periods of surges in PM2.5.
He urged people to stay indoors over the weekend to avoid exposure to dangerous levels of air pollutants.
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