Tue, Jul 18, 2017 - Page 3 News List

EPA, academy sign pollution MOU

TRACE DETECTION:Academia Sinica has developed a more efficient device for testing water pollutants, and plans to use it for environmental testing with the EPA

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Environmental Protection Administration Minister Lee Ying-yuan, right, yesterday shakes hands with Academia Sinica Vice President Chou Mei-yin after signing a memorandum of understanding to promote cooperation between the two organizations at a news conference in Taipei.

Photo: Yang Mian-chieh, Taipei Times

The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) and Academia Sinica yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on technological interaction in a bid to establish more precise ways to identify and regulate pollution.

“Environmental problems should be solved scientifically,” Academia Sinica vice president Chou Mei-yin (周美吟) said, adding that she hopes the two agencies could increase collaboration in areas such as environmental testing, big data analysis and equipment purchasing.

Technology developed by the nation’s top academic institution are to be installed in portable devices, which would enable local officials to identify pollution sources immediately and accurately, EPA Minister Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) said.

The institution has developed a surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) device for identifying water pollutants like cyanide and hexavalent chromium, which are often found in wastewater from electroplating factories.

Even slight exposure to cyanide can be deadly, while hexavalent chromium is a carcinogen that could damage the liver and nervous system, the EPA said.

The SERS device can produce test results in about three hours using only a 0.007ml sample, much more efficient than the traditional method that requires 1,000ml and at least one day’s time, Academia Sinica Institute of Atomic and Molecular Sciences researcher Wang Juen-kai (王俊凱) said.

While the device had been used for medical and pathological studies, this is the first time it would be used for environmental testing, he said.

The institute is working to make the device smaller and portable, and expects to launch it by the end of the year, he said.

“The pollution database is not complete enough,” Academia Sinica Research Center for Environmental Changes deputy director Chou Chung-kuang (周崇光) said when asked about the biggest problem when conducting domestic environmental studies.

For example, China is often blamed for air pollution, but pollution sources often change, Chou said, adding that more precise diagnoses are needed.

The EPA will build another air monitoring station alongside the institute’s station at New Taipei City’s Cape Fuguijiao (富貴角), the nation’s northernmost point, to better evaluate air pollution from China during the winter, Chou added.

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