Sat, Nov 04, 2017 - Page 4 News List

WHO pollution standards must be used: expert

Staff writer, with CNA

The skyline is pictured in Cianjhen District, Kaohsiung, on Thursday as the air quality index in the district reached the orange alert level.

Photo: Huang Chih-yuan, Taipei Times

A National Health Research Institutes official on Thursday recommended that the nation adopt the WHO’s standards on particulate pollution to provide better environmental and health protection.

At present, the nation’s maximum acceptable concentration level for PM2.5 — airborne particles measuring 2.5 micrometers or less — is 15 micrograms per cubic meter per year, while the WHO’s is 10 micrograms per cubic meter per year and 25 micrograms per cubic meter in a 24-hour period, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences head Kuo Yu-liang (郭育良) said at a legislative hearing on air quality in Taipei.

The nation’s standards are based on those of the US, which set an annual mean of 15 micrograms per cubic meter and a 24-hour mean of 35 micrograms per cubic meter, Kuo said.

While there is little proof of a direct relationship between exposure to PM2.5 and adverse health effects, there is a correlation between increased exposure to fine particulates and worsening lung condition, he said.

Therefore, the nation should adopt the stricter WHO standards, he said at the hearing, which was being held as part of the legislature’s efforts to amend the Air Pollution Control Act (空氣汙染防制法) amid worsening air quality, especially in central and southern areas of the nation.

National Taiwan University College of Public Health associate dean Chan Chang-chuan (詹長權) also urged legislators to adopt stricter guidelines, saying that the law should take a proactive rather than a reactive approach to combating air pollution.

Lung cancer is the nation’s leading cause of death, with 7,500 to 10,000 people dying of lung-related illnesses each year, he said.

The continued use of fossil fuels in the transportation and industrial sectors was also discussed.

Environmental Protection Administration Deputy Minister Thomas Chan (詹順貴) said his agency would take all of the recommendations into consideration when coming up with a proposal to tackle air pollution.

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