Wed, Aug 19, 2015 - Page 4 News List

EPA to include PM2.5 as criterion for simulations

AIR POLLUTION:New regulations were designed to improve monitoring of the dispersion of pollutants before they are actually released by new projects

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) has proposed including PM2.5 dust in its industrial emissions control program and increasing scrutiny on air pollution contributors under an air quality model simulation, with the changes set to take effect next year.

PM2.5 is an indicator of airborne particles measuring 2.5 micrometers or less — small enough to penetrate the bronchioles or alveoli of lungs.

The proposal was aimed at amending a set of ancillary regulations to the Air Pollution Control Act (空氣污染防制法) concerning computer-aided simulations of air quality and diffusion of pollutants that have not been revised in 13 years, the agency said.

The existing regulations stipulate that entities that emit either 15 tonnes of airborne particulate matter pollutants, 30 tonnes of volatile organic compounds, 40 tonnes of nitrogen oxide or 60 tonnes of sulfur oxide are required to pass air quality simulation tests that monitor pollutants including PM10, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and ozone. The draft amendments would include PM2.5 in future tests, the agency said.

There are three models used for air pollution simulations — the Gaussian dispersion model, trajectory model and grid model — and any enterprise that meets the emission thresholds is required to undergo a simulated test using the Gaussian dispersion model, the agency said, adding that new developments or expansion projects have to submit simulation results to local environmental agencies to acquire an emissions permit.

The existing regulations also specify that enterprises that emit between 500 and 1,000 tonnes of nitrogen oxide, volatile organic compounds and sulfur oxides every year are required to undergo a simulation using the trajectory model — which computes simple air particle trajectories, as well as complex dispersion and deposition — while entities that discharge more than 1,000 tonnes of the substances are required to pass a simulation using the grid model — a computational grid system used to measure emissions distribution within a defined area.

The draft amendments would halve the emissions thresholds for compulsory simulations based on either the trajectory or grid models, while extending the simulated time from one year to three years, the agency said.

The simulations were designed to ensure that no enterprise can discharge more pollutants than the legally permissible limits, the agency said, adding that steelmakers, oil refiners and power plants are to be among the most affected by the amendments.

The amendments are intended to improve the monitoring of the dispersion of pollutants before development projects are finished and pollutants are actually released, the agency said.

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