The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) should include primary and secondary schools in its indoor air quality regulations, as children are more vulnerable to airborne pollutants, the National Federation of Education Unions and lawmakers said yesterday.
According to EPA data from 2016, the 11 cities and counties that experience serious air pollution are all south of Taichung, with Yunlin County and Kaohsiung reporting the most serious pollution, federation secretary-general Liu Ya-ping (劉亞平) told a news conference at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei.
About 920,000 students at the cities and counties’ primary and secondary schools breathe heavily polluted air, yet their schools are not on the list of regulated places, Liu said.
The EPA regulates the concentrations of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, formaldehyde, bacteria and PM10 (fine particulate matter that measures 10 micrometers or less) in certain indoor places.
Regulated places include universities, public libraries, museums, hospitals, social welfare agencies, governmental offices, transportation stations, financial businesses, movie theaters, performance halls, department stores, hypermarkets and gyms with floor areas of at least 2,000m2, according to the agency’s guidelines released in January last year.
While the EPA often warns that bad air quality poses a greater threat to children’s health, it does not regulate the air quality of their classrooms or activity centers, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Hsu Chih-chieh (許智傑) said.
Reducing the air pollution outside the schools would be a more effective way to protect children’s health, EPA Department of Air Quality Protection and Noise Control Director-General Tsai Hung-teh (蔡鴻德) said yesterday.
Most of the primary and secondary schools only have up to 25 students in each classroom, where pollutants are less significant as compared with outdoor places, Tsai said.
Nonetheless, the EPA would conduct a survey at the schools in question to see if it is necessary to regulate them, he said.
As for why universities are regulated, he said the EPA mainly targets libraries where the ventilation is lacking.
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