Sat, Dec 03, 2016 - Page 3 News List

EPA introduces up-to-date Air Quality Index

By Yang Mien-chieh and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) announced that it introduced an Air Quality Index on Thursday, the most up-to-date standard on air quality.

Before the introduction of the PM2.5 index in October 2014, the nation had previously operated the Pollutant Standard Index, which gauged air quality based on how particulate matter of about 10 micron (PM10), carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and ground-level ozone affected the human body.

As more people became concerned about PM2.5 density, the agency started losing sight of the other pollutants, it said, adding that Taiwan is following the example of other nations and combining all pollutants under one index.

The new index is separated into six levels, with green being the lowest at zero to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air (mcg/m3) per hour, yellow representing normal levels at 51 to 100mcg/m3 per hour, orange representing unhealthy for sensitive groups at 101 to 150mcg/m3 per hour, red representing unhealthy levels for all at 150 to 200mcg/m3 per hour, purple representing very unhealthy at 201 to 300mcg/m3 per hour and maroon, at 301 to 500mcg/m3 per hour, considered hazardous, the agency said.

The most severe of all five kinds of pollutants would be selected to represent that day’s pollutant level, it said.

According to the new scale, the previously “purple” levels of PM2.5 would now be considered red, it said, adding that this was not a relaxation of standards, but rather the use an index that highlights the dangers of pollutants aside from PM2.5.

The agency is mulling measures to step up the control of air pollutants based on the season, including offering factories discounts on their air pollution taxes if they are willing to emit less pollutants during fall and winter.

The emissions decrease would start once local area PM2.5 pollutants reached 35mcg/m3 per hour, it said, adding that it would force emission decreases should pollutants reach 54mcg/m3 per hour.

It said it was also looking into the possibility of reinforcing demands on factories to prioritize vehicles that meet the agency’s fourth-stage emission standards.

The fourth stage standards were implemented in 2006 and constrain the amount emissions of large trucks and cars, while including additional examinations for pollutants such as non-methane organic gases and formaldehyde.

The agency said it would also encourage the use of public transportation and would be starting a system where individuals would be awarded points for using environmentally friendly transportation during fall and winter, adding that the points can then be exchanged for gifts.

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