Air quality measured by PM2.5 concentrations in Miaoli County, Hsinchu City and Matsu has deteriorated, Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) data showed.
PM2.5 is an indicator of airborne fine particulate matter measuring 2.5 micrometers or less.
Average PM2.5 concentrations in Miaoli County in the first half of the year grew by 4.2 micrograms per cubic meter, or nearly 20 percent, to 22.8 micrograms per cubic meter, from 18.6 micrograms per cubic meter during the same period last year, the data showed.
The growth in Miaoli was the highest in Taiwan, followed by a year-on-year surge of 2.9 micrograms per cubic meter in Lienchiang County — which administers the Matsu islands — from 21.1 micrograms per cubic meter to 24 micrograms per cubic meter and a rise of 2.7 micrograms per cubic meter meter in Hsinchu City, from 18.5 micrograms per cubic meter to 21.2 micrograms per cubic meter.
Taoyuan, Changhua and Chiayi counties, and Taichung also recorded higher PM2.5 concentrations in the first six months of the year than in the same period last year. The highest average PM2.5 concentration was recorded in the northern area covering Taoyuan, Hsinchu and Miaoli.
EPA Department of Environmental Monitoring and Information Management Director-General Chang Shuenn-chin (張順欽), who declined to give more details, said that more analysis is needed to establish the cause of the increase.
Long-term observations are necessary to confirm changes in air quality in a certain area and short-term variations could be caused by rainfall, Chang said.
“Compared with last year, rainfall was low in the first half of the year,” Chang said, adding that geography also affects air quality.
The EPA data showed that Yunlin County recorded the highest PM2.5 concentration in the January-to-June period of 27.8 micrograms per cubic meter, followed by 27.1 micrograms per cubic meter in Chiayi City, 27 micrograms per cubic meter in Nantou County, 26.9 micrograms per cubic meter in Kinmen County, 26.1 micrograms per cubic meter in Chiayi County and 25.9 micrograms per cubic meter in Tainan.
However, the level in Yunlin fell by by 2.6 micrograms per cubic meter from 30.4 micrograms per cubic meter last year, the data showed.
Fine particles can come from various sources, including power plants, motor vehicles, airplanes, residential wood burning, forest fires, agricultural burning, volcanic eruptions and dust storms.
Due to their small size, fine particles remain airborne longer than heavier particles, posing a health risk.
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