Red air-quality alerts, which signal “severe” air pollution, were issued 282 times this year as of Dec. 16, beating a target of at most 499, the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) said yesterday.
Preliminary data on the nation’s air quality from Jan. 1 to Dec. 16 showed that the agency had reached its 2015 goal of halving red air-quality alerts earlier than expected, it said.
The goal was to reduce the frequency of red alerts from 997 to 449 per year, Department of Environmental Monitoring and Information Management Director-General Chang Shuenn-chin (張順欽) said.
Photo: Huang Chih-yuan, Taipei Times
The goal for this year is to see fewer than 698 red alerts, but data so far show that the goal of halving 997 was reached earlier than expected, Chang said.
A closer look at the data shows that the frequency of red alerts declined nationwide except for in northern areas, as well as Hsinchu and Miaoli, where the number slightly increased, he said.
While the percentage of days with red alerts increased in northern areas, Hsinchu and Miaoli, it dropped by 21 to 55 percent in central Taiwan, Yunlin, Chiayi and Pingtung counties, and Tainan and Kaohsiung, he said.
Central Taiwan saw the sharpest drop of 55 percent, followed by Kaohsiung and Pingtung with 42 percent falls, he said.
Yunlin, Chiayi and Tainan’s saw a 21 percent fall, he said.
Data show that PM10 — an indicator of airborne particles measuring 10 micrometers or less — only triggered red alerts in industrial areas in Yunlin’s Mailiao Township (麥寮) and Yunlin’s Taisi Township (台西), he said.
Purple alerts — the next highest level — were issued in Taisi on April 7, primarily because of pollution from abroad and dust, he said.
Mailiao reported a red alert on Oct. 27 due to dust, Chang said.
The deterioration of air quality in northern Taiwan, Hsinchu and Miaoli might be because those areas had less rain and weaker winds, Chang said, but added that more analysis was required to determine the causes.
The average concentration of PM2.5 last year was 18.3 micrograms per cubic meter and so far this year the average has decreased to 17.4 micrograms per cubic meter, the agency said, adding that it aims to lower the levels to 15 micrograms per cubic meter by 2020.
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